Blockchain consortium Hyperledger is continuing its rapid expansion by adding 16 new members.

Some 16 new members were announced Wednesday at the Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland, including cloud computing firm Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of the global conglomerate;  financial services giant Citigroup and its Citi Ventures arm; trade finance blockchain platform We.Trade; and Deutsche Telekom, the largest telecommunications provider in Europe.

The consortium’s newest members also include Guangzhishu Technology, Guangzhou Technology Innovation Space Information Technology, KEB Hana Bank, HealthVerity, MediConCen, Techrock, Xooa and BlockDao, Hyperledger said.

With the latest additions, Hyperledger has grown to more than 260 members.

In a statement, Hyperledger executive director Brian Behlendorf said the additions prove that interest in the blockchain space continues to grow, adding:

“The growing Hyperledger community reflects the increasing importance of open source efforts to build enterprise blockchain technologies across industries and markets. The latest members showcase the widening interest in and impact of DLT and Hyperledger.”

John Calian, a senior vice president at Deutsche Telekom and head of its R&D unit T-Labs, said building a roaming application on Hyperledger’s Fabric was “a natural choice.”

He added that businesses in particular benefit from using an open source, permissioned platform such as one based on Fabric, as it provides a production-ready ecosystem ideal for groups with multiple stakeholders.

Hyperledger has been steadily adding new members in recent months, as well as publishing tools for developers to utilize its software.

Earlier this month, the consortium released a cryptographic library, called Ursa, to help blockchain developers more easily create implementations while cutting down on bugs.

*This post is credited to Coindesk

Foreign companies can use emerging tech to build a reputation as a strategic partner in solving local problems.

There is a lot of excitement about big Chinese tech companies. The world looks in awe as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (the “BAT”) go from success to success in China. In recent years, some of these big Chinese tech companies have been entering foreign markets, particularly in Southeast Asia. The most prominent examples have been Tencent’s WeChat, Alibaba’s investment in Lazada’s Southeast Asian e-commerce business, and Bytedance’s successful TikTok and Musical.ly apps in the United States and elsewhere. Most recently, big Chinese tech firms have moved into corporate technology solutions for multinationals, an arena that American (Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, etc.) and European (SAP, Siemens, etc.) providers have dominated thus far, thanks to their massive technological capabilities and strong customer relationships.

Cloud services is one industry where big Chinese tech companies are keen to make international inroads. Comparing the worldwide market share of the biggest cloud players, Amazon is in a league of its own with a market share of 33 percent, but Microsoft, IBM and Google are also doing well. So well in fact, that some may say complacency has crept into U.S. tech, resulting in a monolithic approach: A strong salesforce goes after the juicy multinational accounts of this world, offering generic solutions with a tiny amount of customisation. Meanwhile, Alibaba’s market share is a single digit (4 percent), but it is growing the fastest, powered by an entrepreneurial mindset.

For geographical, cultural, and strategic reasons, Chinese firms have always had an eye on the Southeast Asian market. Alibaba in particular has shown a keen interest in the region. Just think of Lazada, the Singapore-headquartered e-commerce retailer in which Alibaba has invested US$2 billion since 2016. More recently, Alibaba, through its Ant Financial (formerly Alipay) subsidiary, has leveraged blockchain to get into the global remittance business, currently worth US$600 billion. My case study, “Alibaba and Blockchain”, examines the lessons we can learn from the use of this much-hyped emergent technology by big Chinese tech.

Making lemonade with lemons

Many years ago, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma had promised Filipino friends that they could one day use a service like Alipay to send money home and save on banks’ high remittance fees. While his original idea was to acquire MoneyGram and overhaul it, he had to come up with another plan after the Trump administration nixed the deal, citing national security reasons. Ma turned around and told the CEO of Ant Financial that they would just have to build something better than MoneyGram. In June this year, Alibaba, in partnership with Standard Chartered and Globe Telecom, launched GCash, a blockchain-based app that allows Filipino workers in Hong Kong to send money home quickly, securely and cheaply.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger, which means it is a way to permanently record transactions on a shared network, using a consensus process to do away with the need for third-party verification. Its association with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – and by extension the dark web in early years – hasn’t done it any favours in terms of public relations, but many companies are paying close attention to its development and potential for disruption.

For instance, while blockchain could indeed disrupt traditional proprietary clouds, the GCash app illustrates how the technology could be complementary to the cloud services of big tech companies. For instance, an enterprise on Alibaba Cloud may be able, one day, to offer blockchain-based payments in supply chains or commerce with the simple flick of a switch. Compared to regular payment solutions, blockchain-based services could prove advantageous in terms of speed, security and costs. A semi-public blockchain could leverage the distributed computing power of a proprietary cloud. The central challenge is creating an ecosystem that encourage third parties to use the system and enables them to find the right business model to make it profitable.

How GCash creates value for all stakeholders

A key lesson is that Alibaba created value because it focused how the technology could be used to solve a local problem (the high cost of remittances) while cutting out the dominant middlemen, i.e. MoneyGram and Western Union. Its initial target market is the 200,000 Filipino workers in Hong Kong, who remit more than US$550 million per year to their families. With fees reduced by about half, they stand to save US$20 million per year, aside from the convenience of not having to queue at a physical counter. Looking ahead, the service also fits the profile of Alibaba’s home customer base, as more and more Chinese are travelling or living overseas.

GCash offers Alibaba a wide array of opportunities. First, it allows Alibaba to build capabilities and experiment with a new cross-border technology. There are precious few examples of such blockchain applications deployed at scale. With an early solution, Alibaba puts a stake in the ground, which could give it a first-mover advantage in the future.

The partnerships with Standard Chartered and Globe Telecom that were necessary in this first GCash launch are also a demonstration of Alibaba’s willingness to collaborate effectively with large corporations. Ironically, multinationals in foreign markets may offer more alliance potential than companies in China where BAT are already quite powerful. GCash acts as proof-of-concept, demonstrating that at least two different types of major partners – a bank and a telco – can successfully participate in a system designed and operated by Alibaba.

Most importantly, GCash is an opportunity for Alibaba to build its reputation as a problem-focused partner capable of managing strategic alliances with multinational companies. It is probably not an accident that it chose a sympathetic market as its first test case: A large percentage of the Filipino workers targeted are poor foreign domestic workers. This could allow Alibaba to reap excellent public relations value, combating the negative image that many Chinese tech companies face when going abroad.

As Ma said when he accepted an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Hong Kong earlier this year, “real businesspeople make money by solving social problems for others”. If the big Chinese and Western tech companies are to become a true force for good, they might as well achieve this by using technology to solve problems for us all.

*This post is credited to INSEAD

Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is launching a blockchain BaaS (Backend-as-a-Service) platform, local news outlet China Money Network reports September 21.

The announcement was reportedly made by Ant Financial vice president Jiang Guoefei at the Ant Technology Exploration Conference (ATEC) in Hangzhou yesterday. The new BaaS platform is being launched in tandem with an enterprise-focused “ant blockchain partner program” that will reportedly enable small- and medium-scale businesses to implement and innovate new blockchain solutions.

The announcement aligns with what Gueofei characterized as a move to “open up” Ant’s in-house technologies to the wider commercial sector:

“In the past two years, Ant Financial has been working on two aspects about blockchain. One is to improve the technology, and the other is to open it up and accelerate the commercialization of blockchain applications.”

As part of its impetus to commercialize the technology, Ant Financial trialed its very first blockchain remittances earlier this summer, using its newly-developed blockchain-based electronic wallet cross border remittance service. The trial demonstrated a transfer of funds between Ant Financial’s AliPayHK — the Hong Kong version of Ant’s popular mobile payment app Alipay — and Filipino payment app GCash.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has signalled increasing involvement of AliPay in blockchain for several years, with Ant Financial most recently securing $14 billion in funding for the technology’s development this June.

Fresh data published late August revealed that Alibaba had sealed first place globally on a new list that ranked entities by the number of blockchain-related patents filed to date; the e-commerce conglomerate has filed a staggering 90 such patents, outflanking even IBM.

Nonetheless, Ma delivered a keynote lecture earlier this month in which he noted that blockchain is one of a host of advanced technologies that still need to prove they can help evolve society in a “greener and more inclusive” direction.

*This post is credited to CoinTelegraph

If any more proof was needed that anti-cryptocurrency measures were not having a negative effect on the country’s blockchain scene, Alibaba provided it by coming in top of global entities filing blockchain-related patents. Alibaba came in number one with 90 patents, narrowly beating IBM with 89, and MasterCard with 80, as reported by iPR Daily, a media organization that specializes in intellectual property.

According to a Reuters report earlier this year, the number of new blockchain patents filed reached a record high of 406 in 2017, up from 134 in 2016, and 56% of these patents in 2017 came from China.

The developments have arisen despite Chinese tech giant Baidu joining Tencent and Alibaba to impose new anti-cryptocurrency measures, in line with Beijing’s hard line on digital currencies. WeChat Pay and Ant Financial’s Alipay have been monitoring platforms for cryptocurrency transactions.

Yet with Beijing seeking to further develop the country’s tech space, blockchain is seen as an absolute essential. This is particularly true in the south, where it seeks to develop a so-called Greater Bay Area connecting Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and other Pearl River Delta cities into a powerhouse to rival Silicon Valley.

Asia Times reported last week that the Shenzhen Central sub-branch of the People’s Bank of China, the central bank of the PRC, has officially launched the testing phase of the Bay Area Trade Finance Blockchain Platform Project.

The system will conduct trade and financing activities, including accounts receivable and trade financing, while providing a regulatory system to enable real-time monitoring of various financial activities.

Aside from financial applications, media reports indicate blockchain can now be used to authenticate evidence in legal matters, according to guidelines issued by the country’s Supreme People’s Court.

“Internet courts shall recognize digital data that are submitted as evidence if relevant parties collected and stored these data via blockchain with digital signatures, reliable timestamps and hash value verification or via a digital deposition platform, and can prove the authenticity of such technology used,” the Supreme Court said in an announcement translated by CoinDesk.

tencent

Now officially China has proved to be number one digital economy that moves along fostering the robust development of blockchain-related business environment. Yet the captured position was quite a goal.

Following hopeful claims and ambitious efforts paving a thorny path towards Chinese technology dominance over the innovative arena, the country made numerous attempts to ban cryptocurrency and, therefore, to outroot entire blockchain ecosystem out of the country. Nevertheless, these events took place before the government had finally realized the enormous potential behind the cutting-edge blockchains. Starting from then, Chinese authorities have struggle to fuel the blockchain expansion delivering both favorable regulatory frameworks and financial support for the companies operating within the industry.

Previously Coinspeaker reported that a digital currency research lab set up by the People’s Bank of China has submitted 41 patent applications during the first year since its launch, while the robust technology itself was approved as a “new generation” of technologies that are “reconstructing the global innovation map and reshaping the global economic structure.”

Those efforts bore fruit during the past year as the recent survey conducted by the global intellectual property information media outlet, iPR Daily ranked Chine as the world’s leading supplier of blockchain applications. According to the report, China-based companies took 57 spots in a newly compiled “Top-100 Blockchain Enterprise Patent Rankings” with Alibaba at top of the list covering a total of 90 patent applications focused on blockchain-related technologies.

China filed more patent applications than the U.S. last year, with technology companies such as Tencent Holdings and Baidu accounting for 56% of the worldwide total of 406. Applications from the U.S. came a distant second at 22%. The U.S. still has the largest number of cumulative applications, but on an annual basis, China is in the lead.

Indeed, right after Alibaba is going IBM, which falls just one short of that total with 89 filings, while Mastercard occupies third place with 80 filings. Bank of America made it to fourth place, with 53 blockchain patent applications.

Notably, the People’s Bank of China ends up fifth on the list being one of the few central banks in the world to have moved into the blockchain industry with a total of 44 patent applications focused on its planned central bank digital currency.

Based on the IPRdaily research, applications related to underlying technologies such as access control, public key decryption, block construction and data processing accounted for about 50% of the total. The other half of the applications are mainly related to the application of blockchain technologies in various industries, such as identity authentication, drug tagging, food tracking, audit registration, financial institution information coordination, personal credit reporting and tax filing, and some other industrial applications.

It is worth to mention that the Alibaba’s payment subsidiary Ant Financial and Alipay utilizes blockchain in an agricultural sector ensuring the authenticity of rice produced in the northeastern provinces of the country by the means of non-tampering digital ledger. Baidu, on the other hand, launched a blockchain-related photo storage service Totem aimed at protecting the copyright of individual photographers and photo agencies.

For its ranking, iPR Daily said it consolidated information from patent databases as of Aug. 10 from China, the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea, as well as the International Patent System from the World Intellectual Property Organization.

*This post is credited to Coinspeaker

The news reports that Alipay will start to put restrictions on, or even outright ban, accounts that propagate OTC cryptocurrency trading.

China: Report has it that an Alibaba’s payment affiliate, Ant Financial, is teaming up with China regulators to set up scrutiny for P2P crypto trading on its Alipay mobile app.

In addition to the active monitoring and other potential measures, Alipay will also conduct risk prevention education to users on the platform.

It is clear that Ant Financial is trying its best to stay on the good side of regulators in China, where scrutiny on cryptocurrency in the tightly-regulated market is at an all-time high.

Another major component of the Ant Financial decision comes from the recent legal history regarding cryptocurrencies in china.

In related news, regulatory watchdogs in the country, including the Banking Regulatory Commission, the Central Network Information Office, the People’s Bank of China, and the General Administration of Market Supervision have issued fresh warnings to residents, advising them to be wary of fraudsters who swindle gullible the Chinese people with their fake blockchain and crypto-based Ponzi schemes. “If we find any transactions that we suspect are related to virtual currencies, we take appropriate measures including, but not limited to suspension of related fund transfers and permanently restricting payment collection functions of accounts involved”, said a spokesperson from Ant Financial.

Alipay has identified and closed some 3,000 accounts engaged in virtual currency trading so far. A tweet acknowledged by the Korean Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News that mentioned, additionally says Fiat payment channels will be exceedingly monitored apart from Communication channels and Exchange blocks.

Its a notable move, Chinese citizen have rapidly adopted the technology.

It was previously reported that WeChat Pay, another popular Chinese payments app owned by Tencent, has been scrutinizing and blocking accounts that are found to be related to crypto transactions. In a ruling by the People’s Bank of China late past year, the institution chose to ban all cryptocurrency trading, as well as all Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

*This post is credited to iphonefresh.com

Beijing may hold a negative stance against decentralized currencies but blockchain – the technology that underpins all crypto – remains of great interest to the PRC and the country is now looking at a raft of intellectual-property-protection projects based on this emergent technology.

A number of incentives, such as subsidizing patent fees and tax credit rewards, are now reportedly being offered by local authorities to protect blockchain intellectual-property rights. According to Bloomberg, these are being rolled out by an increasing number of private Chinese companies as Beijing strives to gain ground on foreign competitors.

Head of Eiger Law’s intellectual property and technology practice in Taiwan, John Eastwood, told Bloomberg that “US universities and corporations are still doing amazing research and development, but it does not have the same support from the government as in China. That could lead to China pulling ahead.”

A rising number of patent applications have also been filed by Chinese companies in recent years. According to local media outlet Sina.com Chinese companies submitted 550 patent applications on blockchain technology around the world between 2008 and 2017. This means it has surpassed the US and South Korea to become the world’s largest blockchain patent applicant.

Chinese tech giants are also helping the country’s attempt to lead the way with blockchain adoption and development. Just last week retail giant JD.com announced the launch of a new blockchain platform which will allow its enterprise clients to develop applications and smart contract-based systems. The “Retail as a Service” (RaaS) strategy aims to help companies that lack detailed knowledge of blockchain technology to take advantage of its potential. The system competes with the Amazon Web Services (AWS), blockchain-as-a-service platform announced by the American online retailer in April.

Alibaba is also very keen on leveraging blockchain development and holds 43 related patents which cover areas of invention, design, and utility. The internet giant is

reportedly second only to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), which has filed 68 blockchain patent applications. Alibaba also believes it can use the technology to combat counterfeit products and expand access to quality healthcare in China.

Despite China going full steam ahead with blockchain development, its negative stance towards crypto-currencies could be stifling further innovation. Ian Liu, a senior intellectual property associate at Deacons law firm in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg that “in this regard, China is not leading the world in terms of how it recognizes and regulates blockchain assets.”

While Baidu, JD.com and Alibaba, have already “recognized the importance of blockchain as a future technology,” Liu says China’s attempts to crypto-currency ban may ultimately slow the country’s blockchain development efforts.

*This post is credited to AsiaTime.

The 2018 US China Blockchain and Digital Currency Conference at LAX Marriott Hotel on August 22, 2018, despite Beijing’s official ban on sales of new digital tokens and halt on bitcoin trading, China remains a hub of activity for blockchain development.

The 2018 US China Blockchain and Digital Currency Conference at LAX Marriott Hotel on August 22, 2018 is organized by Blockchain China Connect, Artisan Business Group, Inc., and partnered with FundingPost.com.

The conference will be the only Sino-US investment and funding focused event for blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. Hundreds of blockchain entrepreneurs, investors, bitcoin mine operators, traders, and legal taxation experts are expected to attend, and it will provide a great platform for peer-to-peer networking and exploring investment, finance, business and collaboration opportunities between the U.S-China and other countries.

In China, Blockchain is the first tracking standard that is receiving widespread acceptance from consumers, businesses and government.

Big online companies as Alibaba and JD are investing large sums into blockchain and President Xi Jinping calls it a “breakthrough” technology back in May 2018.

However, the country remains a hub of activity for blockchain development. Several start-ups are partnering with the local Chinese government to research or implement the technology and about 41% of Chinese startups who received funding in the first quarter of 2017 were blockchain related.

Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shanxi, Henan, Guiyang and Hangzhou all have policies actively encouraging blockchain development, with Hangzhou pledging investments of $1.5 billion (10 billion yuan) in the technology.

*This post is credited to Chepicap.