Written by Lauren deLisa Coleman
Recently such outlets as Financial Times reported that China just snapped up the number one spot for the greatest number of patents pertaining to blockchain technology over any other country in the world. This is just one of the latest moves within a massive amount of activity inside this emerging tech space. Whether any implications arise from actions as a result of U.S. tariffs, one thing is clear. The race is on grab the title of innovation lead within a sector that has barely even begun to truly take flight.
First, there are a number of reasons why so many in tech are breathlessly exploring and elbowing their into the blockchain proposition and its projected, far-reaching power. “I think this particular space has something way more powerful behind it than just the technology or innovation,” explains David Marshall, Founding Partner, 08Capital, a self-described hybrid Blockchain and stock market-style venture capital fund to work with companies and advise them. “It literally has a real, live energetic movement of human emotion. This technology has potential to have a great impact on everything we do and will definitely be threaded through all technology in the future. Blockchain is quite simply, disruptive tech with massive potential given global adoption.”
And those involved in this industry who are based in China are positioning themselves for leading spots on the global playing field.
For example, Onething Technologies, the cloud computing arm of Xunlei Limited, a leading cloud-based acceleration technology company in China, recently announced that it launched a high-performance blockchain platform called ThunderChain, which can concurrently conduct millions of transactions per second. ThunderChain is designed to realize confirmation and interaction among homogeneous chains and enable multiple transactions to be executed on different chains in parallel.
Part of the allure of this new move is that ThunderChain supports smart contracts written in solidity language and is compatible with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), making it easy to migrate applications from other blockchain platforms.
The company takes a unique approach to the progression of blockchain technology believing that Bitcoin’s rise to popularity, largely due to its investment value, can be categorized as Blockchain 1.0. Ethereum’s adoption as a decentralized platform for a limited set of applications is what Xunlei categorized as Blockchain 2.0.
However, the company sees such applications as ThunderChain, as Blockchain 3.0 since it is designed to create decentralized applications that empower corporations and end users across various industries. And ThunderChain has been specifically created to focus on applications related to entertainment, copyrights and food safety areas regarding traceability and transparency.
OneThing seems to be laser-focused on the expansion and infusion of such technology citing that the fact that all the major Internet companies in the ‘90s were those which were hatched within United States. The company believes that Blockchain innovation changes the social structure and now presents an opportunity for China to surpass the Western countries with big blockchain companies developed in China.
But will such a feat be so simple?
"China has a massive domestic marketplace, has seen what works and what has failed, and a willingness to protect state industrial champions to make sure they have a chance to succeed against the best in the world," explains Marc Ross, founder of Caracal Global, a strategy firm specializing in global business communications, an adjunct professor at George Washington University teaching a course on Globalization and American politics, and former communications director for the US-China Business Council. "But no other nation on the planet hosts the power, influence, innovation, entrepreneurial culture, and creativity of America’s tech companies. The ecosystem of universities, investors, and coders is a deep moat and can’t be built overnight or forced on a culture. So I don’t see China’s tech companies a threat in the next 20-30 years in any sub-sector."
Perhaps, but OneThing is taking an interesting position in what could be seen as taking a lead even within converging the best minds currently within blockchain. While the company was announcing its ThunderChain developments, it also simultaneously announced a partnership with a company called InfoQ, a global leading community for tech developers, to host a Blockchain Applications Global Challenge. The goal is to develop blockchain applications and cultivate the best in worldwide computing talent to help overcome complex challenges facing multiple industries, including logistics, healthcare, education and the public sectors.
The winning teams will receive cash prizes and have opportunities to receive angel investments in addition to opportunities to learn from the global blockchain experts. The move appears to be China’s first technical exchange and application development platform for Blockchain and the latest activity from a company that has invested $100 million into crowd-sourced computing and blockchain. In addition, with over 400 million users and five million subscribers for its download business, Onething’s parent company Xunlei has massive access to end-user data and analysis to support holitistic iterations.
In addition, China is also already applying blockchain within industries that those in the U.S. seem to now only be preparing. ShineChain, is a company that is currently using blockchain technology to solve issues around the insurance industry.
The ShineChain Mutual Assurance App was launched just a few weeks ago and 10,000 people have currently purchased products on the App and bought long-term accident assurance.
ShineChain works to alleviate what it sees as the five major pain points in traditional centralized commercial insurance and mutual guarantee, namely, high cost, lack of trust, privacy disclosure, insurance fraud and inflation. In ShineChain, data is presented on the blockchain, and the actual project operation is open and transparent. Then, ShineChain provides a smart contract which can be used to connect users.
All operations in the process are performed automatically in strict accordance with the flow stipulated in the original smart contract, and even the team within ShineChain can not tamper with data information or misappropriate community assets. The company’s digital asset SHE then serves as the basic circulation carrier for the whole ShineChain blockchain mutual-guarantee ecological system, enabling all trading behavior, value transfer and information dissemination across the entire platform can go on simultaneously, and be controlled by the smart contract.
ShineChain believes the unique characteristics of the blockchain, such as decentralized, transparent, traceable, tamper-resistant creates a high genetic similarity between insurance and blockchain since both of them are based on the collection of individuals. Therefore, the problems of traditional and centralized insurance institutions are able to be effectively solved because of the combination of blockchain technology and tokens.
However, even with such innovation, ShineChain says the major challenge is to create visibility about the product. Interestingly, though, during the second quarter of 2019, SheChain will test its ChainCode and Token technology in an online version. The whole process is slated to have in-depth cooperation and communication with U.S. partners and will integrate the views of global community users.
No doubt, there will be many hurdles to overcome for all involved in the creation of the blockchain sector no matter in which country they are working. Yet from early developments, it seems that many eyes will be on China as the race continues.
Relax after the read with some shopping!