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Chinese blockchain consortium takes aim at Hyperledger Fabric

great wall of china

A Chinese enterprise blockchain consortium, FISCO, has created its own blockchain protocol which it plans to launch in November at the Singapore Fintech Festival. The consortium consists of more than 100 organizations including WeBank, Tencent, Huawei, and ZTE. FISCO is the Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium.

The launch announcement is headlined “Challenging Hyperledger Fabric with a Consortium Chain from China”. Hyperledger’s website is published in two languages: English and Chinese.

The open source platform is called FISCO BCOS and plans to be coinless and open to the public. That means a public permissioned blockchain so that only accredited organizations can host nodes, but members of the public can use the functionality. This is reinforced by the consensus mechanism which is Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT).

BCOS features

The Performance for public blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum is known to be very slow. But that’s because they are permissionless. By comparison, BCOS which is permissioned has a rate of more than a thousand transactions per second (TPS) with split-second confirmation. Hyperledger Fabric can get as high as 2,250 TPS, and R3’s Corda and Digital Asset can reach more than 6,000 TPS.

Additionally, the BCOS platform enables concurrent computation and a multichain architecture with cross-chain interactions. Different applications could hence reside on different chains. Other blockchains have multichain architectures such as Cosmos and Polkadot. Cosmos is currently in the process of going live.

To ensure privacy BCOS supports Zero-Knowledge Proofs which allow users to reveal information without sharing private data. For example, a company could find out that a user is over 18 without knowing their age. Additionally, BCOS supports homomorphic encryption. The latter allows calculations to be done using encrypted data without the nodes having access to the data. Other privacy aspects include group and ring signatures.

The system has observatory nodes which can be used by regulators and auditors.

FISCO says there are currently ten applications being developed. They include a bank reconciliation application, supply chain finance, tracing evidence for legal cases, and copyright trading.

To encourage adoption, there’s a competition running in China organized by the China Electronics Technology Standardization Institute, the China Computer Society and others.

For many financial applications its useful to enable on-chain settlement with a stable coin. The lack of a coin could be addressed in future when China launches a Central Bank Digital Currency.

There’s significant enterprise blockchain activity in China. To date outside of China Zhong An has gained a signficant profile.