Last year the Chinese government’s State Information Center (SIC) unveiled plans for a low-cost national Blockchain Service Network. The aim is to enable small businesses and individuals to be able to host blockchain apps easily without needing to deploy a private blockchain network. This week it revealed more details including an April launch, according to Sina Finance.
The beta testing period runs from October 2019 to March 2020 and will provide free hosting to 400 companies and 600 developers with Hangzhou as the first test city. Hangzhou is also the home of The BSN Development Alliance, and the city is planning a blockchain pilot for digital identity.
A key motivation is to lower cost, and it is estimated that hosting a distributed app (dApp) will cost RMB 2 – 3,000 per year ($260 – $390).
The question is whether the state initiative might crowd out private projects. It’s notable that today major Chinese search engine Baidu announced a similar low-cost offering.
As previously disclosed, the founding organizations were the SIC, China Mobile and China UnionPay (China’s answer to VISA). With support from China Mobile’s 31 provincial companies, so far the network has established forty city nodes across the country.
Additional organizations involved include China Unicom, China Telecom and People’s Daily, but there are numerous others.
The technology underpinning the platform is FISCO-BCOS, a coinless open-source Chinese blockchain. FISCO is the Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium whose members include WeBank, Tencent, Huawei, and ZTE.
The initial code was based on Ethereum and adapted, including cryptography changes for the Blockchain Service Network. In other words, instead of using standard international cryptography which tends to be U.S.-centric, the cryptography is based in Chinese standards.