Blockchain was conceived in the early ’90s, gained traction with the support for Bitcoin, growing in popularity each day. Although some remain sceptical about this innovative platform, many are already realising its vast potential. Hundreds of initiatives are emerging around the world, with projects forming all over Europe as the central hub of activity. Now, one new player has now joined the table. China has announced huge plans this week to push Blockchain on to new heights. Could now be the time for an economic force to take charge and show the world its endless possibilities?
So let’s look into why China has joined the conversation. Never one to lag behind in technology, China plan to see off the likes of the USA and England to become the pioneer in Blockchain. California-based juggernaut Facebook announced its own digital currency Libra penned for next year, so now China plans to react with their own. President Xi Jinping leads the charge and hopes to accelerate the technology for the future, stating a ‘greater effort should be made to strengthen basic research and boost innovation capacity’.
Plans are already afoot to add courses at universities and more than 500 Blockchain initiatives have been registered since March 2019. Digital currency is just the first venture in their sights, with many more to follow. In the banking world, Chinese Merchant Bank plan to release their own decentralised finance applications to support customers and offer a variety of services. It already has around $1 trillion in assets, with profits of $30 billion in 2018 to put into perspective the ambitious democratic nation.
Outside of the obvious financial gain that could benefit China, there’s plenty of other benefits too. Blockchain is known as the exciting technology needed to increase cyber security, track transactions with ease and is heavily linked with cryptocurrency. China knows its value to the state and more importantly could be a platform to track its citizens. It has been suggested by some areas of the media that it could be used to bolster national surveillance, monitor financial activity and potentially even track identification.
Auto manufacturer Wianxiang has already announced mind-blowing plans to run a whole city, Hangzhou, in the Zhejiang province, using Blockchain. Dipping a measly $29 billion into the ‘project’ is no small feat. China appears to be flexing its muscles globally, seeing Blockchain as the future. Even social media campaigns and popular applications have been springing up, banning people from saying ‘Blockchain is a scam’. After President Xi’s comments regarding Blockchain, Bitcoin jumped in value by $2,500 in a few hours. Telling statistics that highlight the second biggest economy in the world making waves in technology.
With the potential of Blockchain, it can impact so many different industries. The digital ledger can store data, secure contracts, be used in governments and across businesses worldwide. In the past ten years, the technology has accelerated and grown rapidly, so it was only a matter of time before one of the biggest financial countries mass adopted it.
The next question is, who will follow? As we already know, Europe leads the way in the west. The likes of England, Germany, Lithuania and a host of other countries are taking steps to implement it in healthcare, finance and in government. The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum was created as an initiative to monitor and boost its progress in Europe, working together as nations to develop the technology. London shines brightest with over 40 start-up initiatives, at various stages. With current Blockchain applications out there struggling to make enough noise to stick, the number one spot to lead this revolution is still available.
China is making the right moves in the market by embracing the technology throughout the entire country. If it is adopted by the government, backed financially and used in different sectors, it could change technology forever, similar to the internet impact on life. Whoever comes out on top as the pioneer could set the trend and create the rules for Blockchain practice, hence the billions of dollars invested to date.
The first key aspect of Blockchain to realise is it runs on a decentralised network. It doesn’t require a third party as an intermediary, giving the power back to an individual user. This may be difficult to comprehend for China who is a communist state run by a dictator. However, more and more applications are springing up to challenge the status quo and return ownership of data to the user.
Alacrity recognises this and acts as one of kind, rewarding its community to make a difference for a number of sectors. Storing masses of data on a secure network could benefit so many industries. Blockchain has the power to change the world. It just needs regulations in place, an established brand that works and co-operation on an institutional level. China has made the first move to mass adopt the technology. Time will tell if they can be challenged, or face being left behind.-->