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Alipay parent Ant Financial partners with Bayer for agricultural blockchain

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Yesterday, Alipay operator Ant Financial partnered with Bayer Crop Science for blockchain solutions in the food and crops industry. The leading firms signed a Letter of Intent to bring the technology’s transparency and traceability to food safety and agricultural supply chains.

The news was announced at this week’s Apsara Conference in Hangzhou, China. Today, Ant Financial also revealed that it is extending its partnership with Hyperledger, and the two will work on interoperability, standards, and blockchain applications.

Ant’s blockchain as a service (BaaS) offering supports both its own Ant Blockchain and Hyperledger Fabric. The technology will now be brought to agriculture with German firm Bayer. Bayer is best known as one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies but is also a big name in crops. It acquired US seeds and agrochemicals firm Monsanto in a $63 billion deal last year.

The firm’s Crop Science division has a strong presence in China. It provides services to Chinese growers including advanced crop solutions, pesticides, environmental and safety training, digital farming technologies, and crop protection equipment.

A new agriculture blockchain

With blockchain, the partnership hopes to “to develop a traceable agricultural product monitoring and service system,” reads a statement sent to Ledger Insights. The system will aim to improve efficiency, farmer income, and the quality and safety of food products.

Geoff Jiang, the VP and GM of the firm’s Intelligent Technology Group, stated: “We are excited to join hands with Bayer Crop Science to explore the application of blockchain technology in agriculture.”

“Agriculture is the foundation of human civilization. Together with Bayer, our exploration of blockchain in agriculture will improve the transparency and responsiveness of its supply chain, and bring more value to consumers, farmers and the society,” he continued.

“By working side by side, we strive to assist the agriculture industry on its transformation in the new era, enhance the application of advanced agricultural technologies, increase agriculture production efficiency, improve farmer’s income, and protect food safety,” explained Weidong Huang, the head of Bayer Crop Science’s Greater China division.

Huang added: “We look forward to working with more partners and consumers to form a new value chain of agricultural products market.”

Ant Financial’s blockchain reach

Agribusiness is now one of over 40 applications of Ant’s blockchain technology. It has initiatives in supply chain finance, remittance, and rice traceability. Through Alipay, the firm provides multiple blockchain services, mainly in health for online prescriptions and insurance.

According to Jiang, its blockchain platform “has the capacity to support 1 billion accounts and a daily transaction volume of 1 billion.”

On Tuesday, Ant Financial won a ‘Digital Trust and Stewardship’ award from IDC for its collaborative blockchain project with MYbank. Jiang thinks that this is another sign of the firm’s growth, and predicts that “within the next year, there will be a number of blockchain applications with 10 million daily active usages.”

This post was updated with clarification and further information from Ant Financial.

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