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Baidu Joins Blockchain Train, Widens Tech’s Adoption Reach

Baidu is launching the public beta version of its blockchain service for businesses to bring interest in and adoption of the emerging technology to yet another level in China and beyond. At a reported rate of as low as ¥1 (about $0.14) to deploy an application on the open-network blockchain until March, the launch of Xuperchain by the search engine (often called the Google of China) bolsters the rate of blockchain development coming out of China, and Asia, as a whole.

The purported open source blockchain 3.0 solution is based on pluggable consensus mechanism, DAG parallel computing network and stereo network that presumably “breaks through the current technical bottleneck of blockchain”. It is also expected to “pave the way for the wide application of blockchain as it is “most likely compatible with” Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Baidu is the latest top brand to join the blockchain train even though there are also reports that Alibaba subsidiary, Ant Financial, is preparing to launch an enterprise blockchain next month, according to its vice president, Guofei Jiang. Testing on Ant Financial’s Ant Blockchain Open Alliance, which is to enable up to a billion transactions per day with a capacity to process 100,000 cross-chain transactions per second, had reportedly started last November with its public launch set for the following three months. The platform was reportedly used during China’s Singles Day in 2019 in which it processed about $30 bln worth of sales.

These are coming as news hint at the possible launch of China’s blockchain network, the Blockchain-based Ser­vice Net­work (BSN), in April 2020, according to the deputy head of the Smart City Development Research Center of Chi­na’s State In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter (SIC), Tang Sisi. BSN is coming six months after it was rolled out for testing. It is an interregional public infrastructure network that was jointly developed by the SIC, a major state-run telco, China Mobile and the China-backed payment card network, China UnionPay, among others.

It is not clear how the arrival of BSN will impact the operation of existing blockchain platforms like NEO, Bytom, IOST etc or what role it would play with regards to China’s DC/EP project even as the coming wave of blockchain-related projects take shape. At the 2020 Chinese National Bank Working Conference held in Beijing from January 2 to 3, the PBoC maintains that the development of “statutory digital currency is progressing well” as well as efforts to “standardize the management of large amounts of cash”.

Not much is known about the form China’s proposed digital currency would take yet and the way the growing blockchain ecosystem in the country will impact its economy though there are indications that some implementations are already picking up. Sina Finance reports that the Xiamen branch of China Exim Bank has used the state-owned cross-border financial blockchain platform to process a foreign exchange payment to Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry Co., to make it the first bank to handle such a transaction in China. At local government level, the government of a province in eastern China, Anhui, has announced it plans to implement blockchain technology across governmental service centers on a seven days a week and 24 hours a day basis.

With small and medium-size businesses and developers set to benefit largely from the likes of Baidu’s Xuperchain to launch decentralized applications (or dApps) cheaply, the use of smart contracts for transacting valuable data among networks of users especially without trust, will get easier and widely accessible.

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