Why has China quietly developed a blockchain platform?

Quietly, Beijing has been working for a few years on a platform that must facilitate blockchain deployment within the country. According to information from CNBCthis platform nevertheless has global ambitions.

A blockchain platform common to all Chinese companies?

It is called Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN). Proponents of the technology say it can help bring transparency and speed to typically slow and expensive processes, such as cross-border money transfers. Blockchain can also allow the execution of tasks in a very fast and automated way, if certain conditions are met. In particular, Beijing considers this technology to be essential in areas such as finance, banking and global trade. Precisely, the BSN platform is aimed at companies that operate a cloud computing infrastructure.

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It can be a big cloud player (like Amazon or Microsoft), or a company that manages its own private cloud or intranet. Yifan He, CEO of Red Date Technology, a company that has contributed to the development of BSN, points out that “we are convinced that blockchain technology is so powerful that it will change the entire Internet and almost the entire architecture of computer systems”. Paul Triolo, head of technology at the consulting firm Albright Stonebridge, explains that “Blockchain is very important for China. Government officials want Chinese companies to use it to solve real-world problems”.

A one-stop shop for deploying applications in the cloud

Finally, this blockchain platform presents itself as a “one-stop shop” to deploy applications in the cloud, a process that could, without such technology, be costly and time-consuming. Beijing also wants to solve a major problem, that of interoperability (or making different blockchains work with each other). For example, if two banks have applications built on different technologies, they may not be able to work with each other.

The BSN infrastructure precisely makes it possible to establish a bridge between the different blockchains. While blockchains in the cryptocurrency world are mostly decentralized, those of BSN will probably be entirely centralized, in order to maintain the support of the Chinese authorities. Beijing intends to retain absolute power over this platform, which will certainly have a very important role to play in the years to come, for the Chinese economy.

Nonetheless, researcher and blockchain specialist Garrick Hilleman says there is a “fundamental incompatibility between China’s ambition to support a national blockchain development ecosystem and the decentralized nature of blockchain technology”. He believes that if China wants to become a world leader in blockchain technology, it will have to learn to live with the “disruptive power and the decentralization of control” which are intrinsic to the blockchain.

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