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Ant’s Alipay uses blockchain to expand China’s record-breaking shopping festival

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Yesterday, China-based tech giant Ant Financial announced that it applied its blockchain technology to support the massive amount of shopping traffic on Singles’ Day. Through Alipay, it provided traceability, copyright protection, identity verification, and supply chain financing for its e-commerce platforms and partners.

Singles’ Day, held on the 11th November in China, is quickly becoming an international shopping event, in part thanks to Alipay. The firm supported overseas partners in marketing and handling the festival.

These partners included local online marketplaces Lazada and Daraz (both owned by related company Alibaba) and six national e-wallet providers based in South and South-East Asia. Along with e-commerce platforms, AliExpress and Alibaba’s Tmall Global, they processed triple the purchases of last year’s Singles’ Day.

Alipay confirmed that blockchain was used in four e-commerce applications. Product traceability, tracking 400 million cross-border items, supply chain financing through the Ant Duo-Chain, copyright certification, and digital identities.

A spokesperson told Ledger Insights: “Ant Financial’s blockchain digital identity solution aims to help Chinese merchants operate on overseas e-commerce marketplaces and serve global shoppers more efficiently.”

Using the Ant Blockchain, merchants create and store digital identities which can then be quickly verified by overseas marketplaces they wish to sell on. The solution claims to reduce the approval processing time from several days to a few minutes.

“For example, with its digital identity online, a merchant on Tmall can quickly set up its business operation on Lazada,” the spokesperson added. “Ant Blockchain is also exploring how to help overseas merchants to do business on Chinese e-commerce marketplaces with this digital identity solution.”

The blockchain applications supported a record-breaking 268 billion yuan ($38bn) on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites during Monday’s event. The six wallet partners, Bangladesh’s bKash, Indonesia’s Dara, TrueMoney in Thailand, GCash in the Philippines, Malaysia’s TnGD, and Pakistan’s Easypaisa, also experienced a considerable uptick.

They processed 26 times more transactions than the average. Dara, for instance, had a peak transaction volume of 80 times more than usual.

In the last week, Ant Financial launched an Open Alliance, similar to China’s national blockchain network, to encourage SMEs in adopting the technology. It also became one of the first five companies to receive a Hyperledger certification, alongside IBM and Accenture. Ant’s solution for the legal sector saw its first sentencing based on blockchain-stored evidence, and the Shangyu District Court shared plans for more collaboration with the firm.