News Technology Media Telecoms

China launches national blockchain infrastructure

blockchain network

Yesterday it was reported that China has officially released a nationwide blockchain service network (BSN) or blockchain hosting platform. The system was built by UnionPay, the State Information Center (SIC), China Mobile, and three other organizations to support the digital economy and smart cities. Until March 2020, it will be in beta and all BSN content and resources will be offered for free.

The SIC is a government think tank for policymaking and economics, while China Mobile is a state-owned telecoms firm which boasts the world’s biggest network by subscribers. State-controlled UnionPay is the country’s card issuer, is larger than Visa and Mastercard, and has multiple blockchain initiatives.

They released the BSN with Red Date Technology, Smart Government, and China Mobile’s Design Institute (CMDI) subsidiary. Red Date is a smaller firm compared to the state bodies, focusing on software, digital wallets, and settlements.

According to its website, the company is providing node capabilities and a blockchain web portal for the BSN, along with software products for China’s Smart City program. The node software will run ‘city nodes’ in various provinces, which UnionPay will reportedly manage.

It appears that the BSN hopes to provide a more accessible alternative to private blockchain platforms such as Alipay and Baidu’s. News outlet Jinse reports that it will allow SMEs, individuals, and students to develop their own businesses, with only 20% of the operational costs of conventional blockchain services. The founding members hope to open-source the BSN once the current testing phase is complete.

The network “will significantly reduce the development, deployment, operation and maintenance, interoperability and supervision costs of blockchain, and will promote the rapid development of blockchain technology,” said Shan Zhiguang, director of information at the SIC.

Zhiguang further gave use cases for the BSN such as utility payments and food and drug traceability. The president of UnionPay, Shi Wenchao, added government administration and cross-border trade as applications.

“With the gradual adaptation of 5G, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and other technologies, the BSN will provide high-quality and customized services for the development of smart cities and the digital economy, and help nurture a batch of new industries or new business models based on blockchain technology,” stated Zhang Xueying, deputy head of the SIC.

China runs many public blockchain iniatives, including recent projects in cross-border customs and company registration. Plus, state-owned banks like the Construction Bank and PBOC are championing the technology. But yesterday’s announcement looks to be one of the nation’s most ambitious in scale to date.