Melbourne-based university RMIT has today launched a new eight-week course aimed at teaching entrepreneurs and company executives the ins and outs of blockchain technology.
The Developing Blockchain Strategy course will kick off on March 19 and run online, offering participants a way to develop a “rich and relevant” understanding of the blockchain. The course was developed by RMIT in conjunction with familiar startup faces: fintech hub Stone and Chalk and consulting firm Accenture.
Students will gain a deep technical understanding of blockchain tecnhology, and learn about blockchain’s use case in varying industries, its value proposition, and how they can implement blockchain tech into their businesses. It will cost $1500.
“When Forbes compares blockchain to ‘where the internet was 20 years ago’, businesses and leaders sit up and take notice. We started to work with our industry partners last year to address the growing curiosity about blockchain as an emerging technology,” RMIT Online’s chief executive Helen Souness told StartupSmart.
“We know the future of work is changing, and the challenge for us in education is to have the foresight to predict these market changes and help bridge the skills gaps so that workforces can adapt in a timely manner.”
Blockchain is more than Bitcoin
While much of the focus on blockchain technology has been linked to digital currency Bitcoin and its meteoric rise, Souness specifies cryptocurrencies are a “very small part of blockchain’s potential” and not the main focus of the new course.
“Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are one of many use-cases covered in this course, however, we are also exposing people to the wider impact of blockchain on business,” she says, clarifying the course aims to equip participants with skills they can apply to their businesses.
Stone and Chalk’s general manager and longtime blockchain fan Alan Tsen emphatically agreeing that the focus on cryptocurrencies has begun to detract from the potential behind blockchain technology.
Tsen told StartupSmart while digital currencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin tend to get the most airplay, the focus of the course he’s helped build with the university will look at the tech’s potential for disruption, and where it sits on the current innovation timeline.
“We’re looking at what this technology might mean for a whole variety of industries, and how businesses can internally think about blockchain tech,” he says.
“How does it align with the greater history of business innovations? Are we really at the precipice of things happening in a meaningful way, or are we still 10 years off?”
Jason Potts, head of RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub, agrees with Tsen’s assessment of the way cryptocurrencies have detracted from the potential for blockchain technology, but says such currencies are a key introductory point for many to the technology.
He calls cryptocurrencies the “first wave” of applications for blockchain technologies and says there are swathes of new use cases in areas like logistics, asset registries, data markets, and ‘smart contracts’.
“We see blockchain technology as a foundational new economic infrastructure that will impact across all sectors of the economy,” he told StartupSmart.
“The course makes this distinction by looking intensively at a wide variety of business applications and focusing on industry disruption and new business models that this new technology makes possible.”
Looking broadly at the Australian ecosystem, both Potts and Tsen believe our country is a fantastic stomping ground for blockchain and crypto focused companies, praising our interconnected ecosystem and reasonable regulation.
Australia’s treatment of cryptocurrencies for GST purposes, along with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s guidelines for initial coin offerings, places Australia as one of the better large-scale regulatory environments globally, which Tsen says is often “underplayed”.
“Most of the best entrepreneurs these days are working on crypto projects, and this is true the world over. We’re going to see a torrent of new businesses in 2018 making blockchain plays,” Potts says.