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UEFA sponsorship signals big plans for AntChain blockchain outside China

uefa euro 2020 football soccer

Today UEFA announced a new five-year global partnership for blockchain technology with AntChain, the blockchain subsidiary of Ant Group which also owns AliPay.

AntChain will act as the official blockchain partner of the delayed UEFA EURO 2020. The Chinese technology brand will deploy blockchain during the event to store top scorer records.

Relative to its parent company, which owns China’s largest mobile payments business Alipay, AntChain is still in its early stages. Last July, the subsidiary was rebranded to AntChain to offer blockchain-based solutions that aggregate numerous digital technologies, including AI and secure computation.

This may explain why Ant Group has decided to catapult AntChain onto the global scene by securing this UEFA partnership. Ant Group evidently wants to make a name for AntChain outside of China, and the sponsorship will certainly strengthen international visibility for the Chinese brand.

AntChain’s partnership is not to be conflated with Alipay’s Top Scorer trophy for the UEFA EURO 2020. Alipay is already involved with UEFA, having signed an eight-year global partnership in 2018.

Since 2015, Ant Group has been investing significantly in the research and development of blockchain technologies. It aims to build trust and strengthen transparency in industries that involve large numbers of participants and complex processes.

This global outlook follows Ant Group’s September 2020 launch of Trusple, a blockchain platform for international trade that is designed to help SMEs with cross-border trade finance. It’s already attracted major international banks such as Citi, Standard Chartered and DBS.

Meanwhile, sister firm Alibaba was recently hit with a $2.8 billion antitrust fine and Ant has been forced to restructure as a financial holding company. Plus, restrictions have been imposed on its buy-now-pay-later solution “Huabei” and the “Jiebei” lending platform. These are the latest setbacks for Ant Group after its major IPO was retracted in November last year.

Today’s announcement of the new AntChain UEFA sponsorship raises interesting questions. With headwinds at home, will Ant focus more abroad and on blockchain?

During the speech that scuppered the Ant IPO, founder Jack Ma spoke passionately about digital currency. Might Ant use AntChain for digital currency outside of China? Now that would be big news.

Image Copyright: lcv / BigStock Photo