Speaking at the World Intelligence Congress (WIC) in Tianjin China, Jack Ma founder and CEO of Alibaba, expressed his opinion: “There is no bubble for blockchain, but there’s a bitcoin bubble.”
His view is consistent with China’s clamp down on cryptocurrencies, but extensive support for blockchain. The event commenced with tutorials on how to use smart contracts, despite the Congress not being blockchain specific. Government interests back WIC.
According to the South China Morning Post, Ma said: Personally, I’m quite bullish about blockchain. Alibaba has been conducting research on blockchain for several years.”
In 2017 Alibaba announced it was working with PWC on a food safety blockchain to fight fake food. Initially, the pilot focused on Australia and New Zealand which exports a lot of food to Alibaba’s customers.
Ma said: “Social networks may not need blockchain, but we are doing internet finance in which we process trillions of trading volume.” He continued: “We have to turn to blockchain, otherwise it would be fatal.”
Alibaba lodging many patent applications evidence Ma’s interest in the sector. While the US has the most cumulative patent applications in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector, China has been number one annually since 2016.
Combining the patent applications with China’s ban on the export of data, there’s a risk that blockchains will become geographically fragmented. Some Chinese companies are currently using western blockchains such as Ethereum. There are multiple Chinese blockchain platforms in development, with NEO as the highest profile.
Compared to the West, many Chinese companies are already using blockchain at scale. Zhong An, the Chinese insurer, is using the technology to enable microinsurance. They offer cover for online retail transactions, which otherwise wouldn’t be viable.