Independent business law firm, Hall & Wilcox, has underlined its innovation smarts by being one of only two legal firms participating in Westpac’s recent BlockHack16, with its submission finishing second in the ‘people’s choice’ category.

The BlockHack16 is an event bringing together innovators to explore potential commercial applications for blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology is a continually growing digital database, which registers records such as transactions to create ledgers. The technology was famously pioneered by cryptocurrency Bitcoin and is regarded as a highly secure way of tracking transactions because once logged they cannot be rewritten.

Some possible scenarios for blockchain use include secure voting in elections, as a platform for buying and selling, for ‘smart contracts’ where the technology can automatically ensure contract terms have been met, as a ledger for various transactions and many other uses.

Westpac’s BlockHack16 was a competition where 14 teams attempted to develop commercial uses for blockchain technology. Hall & Wilcox’s team was led by partner Mark Inston and Chief Operating Officer Sumith Perera, and included representatives from Westpac, a client of the firm.

Mr Inston said the technology offered many possibilities. “There are several gaps in the market where blockchain technology can provide an affordable solution.

“The ability to create secure ledgers has great potential because it can bring certainty and clarity regarding those transactions which have otherwise been a grey area or open to disputes.

“While we are set on winning the competition, our team will also explore the possibilities of commercialising our ideas.”

Sumith Perera commented that participating in BlockHack16 is reflective of what is happening more broadly across the firm. “We are always looking for chances to co-create with our clients, which we are doing with Westpac at BlockHack16.

“As part of smarter law we embrace technology, new ways of approaching legal issues and the BlockHack16 is a good opportunity to create something which has potential for commercial use.”