Although the Chinese government has banned cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs), and may even extinguish its massive crypto-mining industry, it has nevertheless backed the development of applications based on blockchain technology.
As reported by MIT Technology Review, such support has propelled a surge in the development of blockchain-related projects in China.
Leading the charge is Ant Financial, the payments affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba and the largest fintech company in the world by value.
Ant Financial operates the digital payment service Alipay, which has a ubiquitous presence in China and has been investing heavily in new technologies, including blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing.
According to Hui Zhang, director of Ant Financial’s blockchain division, a major goal of the high-tech initiative is to build the “industrial internet,” with digital services tailored to China’s industry having much catching up to do.
Zhang said blockchain technology, in combination with the internet of things and AI, will offer firms a more efficient means through which to connect and exchange important data, thereby boosting productivity.
The company, valued at US$150 billion in 2018, has developed a proprietary blockchain platform. Alibaba was the world’s leader in patents amassed in 2018, just ahead of IBM with China’s central bank at 4th place.
Ant Financial is currently using new technology to support applications one for tracking charity donations, one which tracks physical items such as components of supply chains, and a third facilitating rapid, cross-border payments in Asia.
The fintech firm is also developing a blockchain-powered platform for international trade finance, as well as proprietary technology and applications for the open-source enterprise blockchain platform Hyperledger.
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