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Blockchain blooming in China’s financial services sector

The past week has seen a couple of interesting stories revolving around blockchain in financial services emerge from China. The first of these involves WeBank, a digital-only bank, which has announced that it will explore the integration of DAML, the open source smart contract language created by Digital Asset, with the blockchain platform, FISCO BCOS. The integration provides additional smart contract resources for the developers of FISCO BCOS.

FISCO BCOS is an open consortium blockchain platform built by the Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium (FISCO) open source working group, which includes WeBank, Beyondsoft, Digital China, Forms Syntron, Huawei, Shenzhen Securities Communications, Tencent, YIBI Technology, Yuexiu Financial Holdings (Fintech). It is one of the first blockchain platforms built specifically to meet the regulatory requirements and service demands of the financial services industry. In 2019, FISCO BCOS was the first domestic blockchain platform selected as the technology infrastructure for China’s national blockchain-based service network (BSN).

“Blockchain is a significant opportunity for innovators,” said Henry Ma, executive VP and CIO of WeBank. “Working with an international market leader like Digital Asset by integrating DAML smart contracts with FISCO BCOS is a key milestone for us to deliver next generation blockchain solutions across finance, supply chain and other sectors in China and beyond.”

Founded in 2014, Digital Asset is a technology driven start-up, dedicated to building a cross enterprise asset, transaction and workflow processing environment for enterprise customers. In recent years, its products have been adopted and recognized by the likes of ASX, HKEX Accenture, and Deloitte.

DAML is described as a next-generation smart contract platform used to create distributed applications that can run across technology silos. Digital Asset provides commercial integrations of DAML with partner platforms so that a variety of organisations - from the largest enterprises to technology start-ups - can develop secure, sophisticated, compliant, and operationally solid applications faster and deploy them to any ledger.

“As a driving force behind the FISCO BCOS community, WeBank has emerged as a leader paving the way for the next generation of distributed customer applications across China and beyond,” said Yuval Rooz, co-founder and CEO, Digital Asset. “They are a great addition to the growing number of financial institutions and other corporates using DAML in Asia.”

The FISCO BCOS community that Rooz refers to now has over 10,000 individual developers and more than 500 corporate members globally. Rather than a single blockchain, the consortium chain is a set of blockchain applications to serve the general public. The protocol is coinless, permissioned and supports Zero-Knowledge Proofs, allowing users to reveal information without sharing private data.

Another consortium blockchain targeting both corporates and developers is Ant Financial’s new platform, OpenChain, which launched on Thursday. OpenChain is a blockchain platform that is designed to enable SMEs and developers to tap into Ant Financial’s proprietary consortium of blockchain technologies and deploy blockchain-powered smart contracts and decentralised apps (DApps).

“Applications of blockchain technology have ballooned over the past few years,” commented Jin Ge, general manager of Blockchain Platforms at Ant Financial. “Through the launch of the OpenChain platform, we aim to help one million SMEs and developers innovate and explore more use cases in the next three years.”

The platform provides developers with dozens of readily available modules that can be used in various combinations to build trust in multi-party collaborations, including in areas such as supply chain finance, product provenance, digital invoices and charitable donations. The aim is to reduce development and deployment costs for SMEs and developers, allowing them to focus on product and service delivery.

OpenChain features blockchain technologies developed by Ant Financial to build trust in commercial and transactional use cases, the success of which typically depends on multi-party collaboration. These use cases require not only a trust mechanism among all parties, but also high-performance consensus algorithms that can complete authentication computation on the fly. The platform also uses trusted computing capabilities to enhance data security and protection for the apps running on its platform.

“The platform offers efficient blockchain development services, facilitates cost-effective smart contracts, and lowers the entry barrier for developers,” said Wu Xiao, the founder and CEO of WhiteMatrix, a provider of individual developer services as well as enterprise blockchain app development services, which has been using OpenChain to develop smart contracts for developers since the platform began its initial alpha testing in 2019.


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