Fintech Payments

Is blockchain startup Flux the answer to direct democracy?

Is blockchain startup Flux the answer to direct democracy? Photo: Arthimedes, Shutterstock.com
Written by Jessica Ellerm

Flux shows us how technology can be leveraged for greater political enfranchisement, says Jessica Ellerm, and it’s built on principles and technology core to blockchain.

We certainly live in interesting times. Yesterday morning, Australia woke up to a hung parliament and continuing uncertainty about its political direction. Flicking on Sky News, commentators were already referencing “senior labor sources” as whispering about a possible leadership challenge to the man who’d just brought the party back from the brink of irrelevance, Bill Shorten. Others were speculating it was no more than a clever, first-mover tactic from Shorten’s camp to flush out the non-believers from among the party elite. Certainly, labor senator Sam Dastyari’s appearance on Sky News suggested the latter.

The news of another potential leadership spill will unleash yet another collective groan among Australian voters. After churning through five prime ministers in five years, many globally must wonder how anything gets done at all down under. After years in the political wilderness, plus a stint in jail, the potential reinstatement of fringe right wing candidate Pauline Hanson suggests Brexit-like undercurrents of disillusionment, and democratic disenfranchisement may indeed be simmering away in the lucky country.

Transparency and verification

It certainly feels like the world is on the cusp of an era of unenlightened politics. The irony is, with technology and finance undergoing such a renaissance, the failure of our leaders to understand the gravity of this shift and its potential to stimulate the economy from the ground up speaks volumes of the lack of connection and understanding our leaders have with real voters.

That’s why I’ve been following with interest the rise of Flux, a party that wants to allow all Australians to have a direct say on what decisions are made in parliament by leveraging blockchain technology.

Through its mobile app, all registered Australian voters will be able to have a say on how their Flux representative should vote on pieces of legislation. Don’t care about a particular issue? Flux lets voters trade their one-off voting token with another voter so they can save up more votes for issues they really care about. It all takes place on the blockchain, which provides the end-to-end transparency and verification required to make a system like this work.

Of course, getting a representative into parliament via the Senate is the only way Flux will be able to realise any of the above. It will be interesting to see if they achieved this come Tuesday, when it’s expected the voting dust will start to settle.

Social experiment

Flux has its detractors and its unknowns – from the way initial candidates are selected to how the voting system and technology itself will relate to the Flux Party entity. Can, or should, the two be mutually exclusive? If Flux is successful in electing a senate representative, then any Australian will be able to direct how that representative should vote. Some see this as a disconnect – others, a benefit. The jury is possibly still out, and may not be able to return a verdict until this social experiment has run its course. I have to admit, I’m still trying to get my head around the concept, but the discussions in the Flux Community forum are a great place to start.

In simple terms, the core philosophy of Flux is to hand direct democracy back to me and you. While many people have lamented Brexit for doing exactly that, others have pointed to the fact that either outcome was a result of democracy in action. My view is that we’ll see more and more platforms like Flux emerge in the next few years, providing a voice for those who feel the current system fails them.

Ultimately, many of us do want to trust our elected representatives to do the due diligence on economic reform and policy changes on our behalf. But when that trust is broken, and corruption and vested interests appear to hold more influence and sway than the public, ideas and concepts such as Flux come to the fore.

Whatever happens, Flux shows us a potential way forward for how technology could be leveraged for greater political enfranchisement. And, the fact it’s built on principles and technology core to blockchain signifies the deeper undercurrents of the fintech movement, a place where politics, social transformation and economics intersect in order to forge a path towards greater prosperity for all, not just a few.

READ NEXT: The blockchain won’t make you (or your counterparty) a better person

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Photo: Arthimedes, Shutterstock.com

About the author

Jessica Ellerm

Jessica Ellerm is CEO and co-founder at Australian fintech startup Zuper Superannuation. She's also a fintech commentator, blogging at her own website (jessicaellerm.com) and guest posting for BankNXT. In addition, she writes for the fintech blog Daily Fintech Advisers, specialising in small business banking. Prior to Zuper, Jessica spent 6+ years at payments company and small business startup bank Tyro. Jessica is a contributor to Brett King's Breaking Banks, and has freelanced as a finance news journalist for Australia's leading online markets channel Finance News Network.

Leave a Comment