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What’s blocking blockchain?

Three years ago, I blogged about Ant Group’s strategy for AI, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and more.

At the time, I noted:

Ant Financial have more blockchain patents than any other company in the world and they have the most live blockchain-based production systems.

That was in 2018.

By the end of 2020, the situation is even more interesting. Ant Group has 2,298 blockchain patents, having added 586 in 2020, and there were also a massive 1,215 patents filed by Ping An Group, moving the company just ahead of Tencent into second place.

In fact, there is a war taking place. A technology war. You may not have noticed it, but it’s a war between China and the rest of the world, particularly America. This is why China is leading the world in blockchain development and it is the first major economy to commit to blockchain technologies as part of a national strategy.

Blockchain, the technology that enables the creation of a shared and cryptographically-secured digital ledger, was mentioned for the first time in a draft of China’s national five-year plan.

Thing is that I’ve heard these sort of proclamations before.

I remember a thing called IndiaChain, do you?

IndiaChain was meant to be the blockchain platform that would be added to the Unified Payment Interface (Open Payment APIs) and Aadhaar (Digital Identity System). Thing is, and I may be ignorant, but when I google IndiaChain, there’s nothing there.

Similarly, does anyone remember that Dubai said it would run its economy on blockchain ledgers by 2020?

From October 2016:

The Crown Prince of Dubai announced a strategic plan today that would see all government documents secured on a blockchain by 2020.  

Has anyone gone back on checked up on this? Well, I did and cannot find anything concrete about governmental blockchain implementation or use cases in the UAE.

I can find articles that say half of the Emirates government runs on blockchain, but which half and running what?

Difficulties faced in bringing together required stakeholders was cited as the biggest challenge for government organizations, followed by educating the shareholders and identifying the most relevant applications of blockchain.

I said this six years ago, and based it on the fact the biggest barrier to blockchain adoption is that its primary use cases involve cross-industry agreements.

This is why China can easily implement in-house blockchain systems, such as those used by Alibaba for tracking charitable investments within the Alipay system, run by Ant Group, a single company use case application; but running blockchain across a whole nation? running blockchain across government, industry and banking? running blockchain for more than just transaction recording or internal use cases? We are way away from that today, even now after years since we all buzzed about it.

I guess the key to this is that India, China and the UAE may all make great government proclamations about blockchain and how leading edge they are, but show me the practical usage and implementation. I’m watching and waiting.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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