China Greets Blockchain With A Smile
Since Bitcoin’s inception, the terms “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” have gone hand-in-hand, with many using the two words to complement each other in a similar context. Although it is widely understood that the acceptance of blockchain directly implies the acceptance of cryptocurrencies, China has taken a different approach, with innovators within the country seeking to propel the development of blockchain technologies, while hampering the adoption of cryptocurrencies at the same time.
As per a report from the Asia Nikkei Review, an Asia-based news outlet, Chinese firms have clearly led the blockchain-related patent race, with Alibaba alone accounting for more than 10% of the world’s blockchain patent applications. China’s infatuation towards blockchain innovation has reportedly taken the entire country by storm, with internet giants such as Tencent and Baidu issuing a staggering 56% of 406 worldwide patents.
To put this 56% statistic into perspective, the U.S., which is unarguably the world’s foremost technological superpower, is only responsible for 22% of blockchain-centric patent filings.
As per a chart from the report (seen right), the People’s Bank of China takes the cake when it comes to the most decentralized ledger technology (DLT) patents
filed by an individual entity, with China’s central bank issuing 68 filings in recent years. Following the PBOC’s 68 patents is Alibaba, Bank of America, nChain Holdings, Beijing Rui Josie Technology Development, Mastercard, Jiangsu Tongfudun Information Technology, Cloud Minds (Shenzhen) Technologies, China United Network Communications and Hangzhou Qulian Technology.
John Eastwood, a Taiwan-based partner at Eiger Law, commented on China’s unrelenting drive for blockchain adoption and development, stating:
Blockchain is a new technological landscape where it could be very profitable for Chinese companies to grab significant territory in their patent claim language. Holding several patents helps to give an aura of legitimacy that helps many companies in the blockchain field to attract investors or acquirers.
Chinese blockchain trailblazers have found a good variety of industries to apply DLT to, including supply chain management, global financial transactions (remittance), postal services, healthcare, and more.
Alibaba’s Blockchain Drive
Alibaba, China’s 2nd most valuable company, has taken a rather open-minded approach when it comes to blockchain. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder and one of the most well-known entrepreneurs in the world, has openly endorsed DLT. Speaking at the launch of his firm’s blockchain-centric remittance service in Hong Kong, Ma stated:
Blockchain technology can help overcome the challenges of security, sustainability and inclusion. It could change our world more than people can imagine.
And it seems that the firm hasn’t taken an ‘all talk, no action’ approach, with the $450 billion giant making a series of moves to accommodate blockchain technologies in recent months. Most recently, Alibaba has begun exploring the use of blockchain in healthcare, partnering with the city of Changzhou to verify and “secure” a patient’s medical data on a blockchain.
While China has undoubtedly taken a leading role in the so-called ‘blockchain revolution’, the heavy-handed government seems to be hesitant to say yes to cryptocurrencies, or at least for now.