Australian scientists have built the fastest blockchain technology in the world

Patrick Lux/ Getty Images.

The latest test of the University of Sydney’s Red Belly Blockchain shows it can process financial transactions 50% faster than first anticipated, outperforming market leaders – including VISA – for worldwide payments.

Blockchain is a public ledger allowing secure and almost instantaneous digital transfer of virtual currencies across the world.

It’s used to power Bitcoin but as Business Insider reported this week, there is a critical limitation to widespread adoption of the world’s leading digital currency as a payment method: speed.

Dr Vincent Gramoli, who heads the Concurrent Systems Research Group developing the blockchain, says trials over the past three months showed the technology’s performance gets better as it scales up.

“The latest tests showed the Red Belly Blockchain can process more than 660,000 transactions per second on 300 machines in a single data centre,” Gramoli says.

“This is a notable improvement from tests earlier in the year which showed our blockchain achieved a performance of more than 440,000 transactions per second on 100 machines.”

VISA’s network has a peak capacity of about 56,000 transactions per second and the Bitcoin network is limited to around seven transactions per second.

In Australia, several companies are pioneering blockchain use.

Earlier this year, the ANZ Bank and Westpac successfully used blockchain instead of paper for bank guarantees on commercial property leasing.

The use of a blockchain means you can prove where information has come from and gone to, creating new economic activity in areas such as financial services, supply chains and government registries.

Data61, a project of Australia’s peak science organisation, the CSIRO, has been investigating how blockchain technology could be adopted in Australia to deliver productivity benefits.

And the ASX is also looking at replacing its CHESS equities clearing and settlement system with blockchain.

The Red Belly Blockchain at the University of Sydney is being built to work both in public and private contexts, meaning that it could be used by internet users as well as in an industrial environment restricted to certain users.

Red Belly Blockchain differs from proof-of-work blockchains in that it offers a performance that scales without consuming much electricity.

This ensures the security of hundreds of thousands of transactions per second coming from a potentially unbounded number of clients.

Gramoli says the next stage for the Red Belly Blockchain is to be made public available to all internet users.

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