Inevitably all good things come to an end, including the reign of Blockchain Australia’s now-former chief executive, Steve Vallas. In his stead, Australia’s leading blockchain body has officially handed over the torch to Laura Mercurio who aims to further advance the cause of all things blockchain Down Under.
What’s the deal with Blockchain Australia?
First, a quick primer on Blockchain Australia for the uninitiated. According to its website, it is “Australia’s peak industry body that represents Australian businesses and business professionals participating in the digital economy through blockchain” — think everything from legal professionals through to exchanges such as Kraken or blockchain logistics firms such as Aglive.
In terms of what it looks to achieve and its raison d’etre — the organisation encourages and advocates for the adoption of blockchain technology throughout industry and government. Of course, there’s a little more to it than just that, but that is at its core what the industry body is all about.
Bringing in the big guns
Back in July, the then CEO Steve Vallas announced in a LinkedIn post that he would be stepping down from his post within two days, despite no immediate replacement being announced.
Vallas’ departure left industry commentators questioning who would be up to the task of filling such big shoes. Either way, that is history — over to the present.
Effective September 12, Laura Mercurio will officially become the new Blockchain Australia CEO. In an email shared with its members, the industry body commented that Mercurio’s appointment was “timely” in light of the significant regulatory and policy discussions on the go in Australia.
Continuing, it added that its new chief executive would continue “working closely with Government, government agencies & regulators to shape the future of blockchain technology and digital assets”.
While it was perhaps somewhat surprising to witness Australia’s foremost blockchain body sans a commander-in-chief, one imagines that finding a replacement was a difficult task given the nature of the role — to be sure, it’s a serious gig on a big stage as crypto regulation across the globe ramps up.
To that extent, Mercurio appears to fit the bill. Prior to joining Blockchain Australia, she worked across a range of corporate, consulting and technology businesses spanning multiple sectors and geographies across the globe. In particular, she has a strong financial background, having worked at global investment bank heavyweights including BlackRock, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank.
A timely appointment
As the Australian federal government embarks on its “token mapping exercise”, Mercurio’s wealth of experience may prove to be critical in terms of getting industry and government on the same page. As Blockchain Australia itself notes, her appointment is timely, particularly in light of ASIC’s recently announced plans for crypto regulation.
Commenting on her appointment, Mercurio was “extremely excited” to take on the role and contribute towards driving “innovation and change for Australian businesses in the blockchain space”. In addition, she added:
With the rapid adoption of Blockchain and crypto assets there are opportunities ahead for this technology to fundamentally transform how industries solve day to day issues. I am looking forward to advancing the innovation ecosystem and working closely with members, industry, governments and regulatory bodies to provide digital solutions.Laura Mercurio, CEO Blockchain Australia
Blockchain Australia seemingly strives to be the bridge between the crypto industry and government. It is no doubt a challenging task given that the respective interests of each are not necessarily always in alignment — business may be inclined towards innovation and government towards regulation. Striking a balance is tricky at the best of times. Regulation is on the horizon and under the stewardship of Mercurio, Blockchain Australia could play a critical role as to how things pan out in the end.