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China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published a list Sunday of the 71 companies and public entities that have joined its committee, which goes by the catchy title, the “National Blockchain and Distributed Accounting Technology Standardization Technical Committee.” The group was formed to discuss and set industry standards for distributed ledger technology.
Unsurprisingly, the committee is weighted towards the country’s expanding technology sector: Huawei, Baidu, fintech companies Tencent and Ant Financial, and e-commerce giant JD.com have all sent delegates, as have some of the country’s technical universities and relevant enforcement agencies.
Various arms of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) involved in technological research – and the digital yuan initiative – are also represented.
Other sectors are also represented, including insurance and banking conglomerates Ping An and Qianhai Wezhong Bank, as well as the car components manufacturer Wan Xiang.
Inviting a wide range of industries onto the committee may be a nod to a speech Premier Xi Jinping made in October in which he said China must “seize the opportunity” and drive technological innovation across all sectors using blockchain technology.
It’s possible the standards agreed by the blockchain committee could influence regulators and industry bodies from other countries.
The MIIT has already tried to assert China’s lead when it comes to digital assets. Back in 2018, an affiliated research group began producing publicly available assessments of cryptocurrencies based on their tech capabilities and use cases.
Huawei has long been bullish on China’s blockchain scene. Soon after Facebook revealed libra last summer, the phone manufacturer’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei, said China should develop its own digital asset to rival it. In 2018, the firm released one of the first smartphone-compatible crypto wallet apps as well as a blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) platform that allowed users to write their own smart contracts.
Only a handful of blockchain committee members are actually what might be called “pure” blockchain startups. One of them, Conflux, is a startup developing scaling solutions, which received financial backing from the Shanghai government in December.