Alliance formed to spur blockchain development in Taiwan, China
Judy Lin, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES

Following 10 years of development, blockchain technologies are emerging as a disruptive innovation beginning to challenge and subvert established business and production models, but such technologies and their applications are still at a very preliminary stage and how to go beyond blockchain 2.0 is a very crucial issue, according to Chinese economist Zhu Jiaming.

At a recent ceremony held in Taipei inaugurating the Cross-Straits Blockchain Alliance (CBA), Zhu likened the current blockchain development to the Wright brothers' first plane flight, as there is much room for development and advancement.

Jack Lee, founding managing director of HCM Capital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Foxconn Group, said that the fourth wave of industrial revolution to be brought by blockchain will pose much larger influences than the preceding three waves. As the third wave of revolution, the Internet at most entails a change in the way information is transmitted, but blockchain will thoroughly change human's relationship with production, Lee reasoned.

China gets most blockchain patents

A China blockchain expert also indicated at the CBA gathering that the government in his country is expected to release major policies aimed at using blockchain technologies to help small and medium-sized enterprises in China access "Belt and Road" trade routes. In 2017, China was the most active applicant for blockchain patents, obtaining 225 patents, far exceeding 91 patents for the US and 13 patents for Australia.

Pindar Wong, chairman of VeriFi (Hong Kong), said that blockchain will provide a good opportunity for Taiwan to return to the global tech center stage, but Taiwan tech players, mostly with strong prowess in ICT hardware production, must deepen their deployments in software development as soon as possible to better embrace the looming huge business opportunities associated with blockchain technologies and applications.

The decentralized ledger trait of blockchain prevents data in any given block from being altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. Besides recording transactions of crypto currencies, blockchain has been widely applied to financial services, public governance, energy management, supply chain logistics, supply chain financing, medical records, data tracking, and more.

Sharp blockchain spending growth

IDC estimates that global spending on blockchain technology would reach US$2.1 billion in 2018, more than double the figure of US$945 million recorded in 2017, and total annual spending is estimated to top US$9.2 billion by 2021, translating into a CAGR of 81% during the 2016-2021 period.

Forbes has also reported that close to 80% of banking institutions are developing their own blockchain technologies, and another survey jointly conducted by IBM and the Economist Intelligence Center shows that 90% of 200 government institutions in 16 countries have planned to utilize blockchain technologies to handle public services, financial trading management, asset management, contract management and regulatory compliances.

Forbes pointed out that more than half of the world's top enterprises in terms of market capitalization are web-based ones, and it has taken more than 30 years for the Internet to become a real driver of global economic transformation following its emergence. But it will take less than 30 years for blockchain to alter the global economy, as the majority of tech firms are aggressively moving to develop blockchain technologies and applications seeking to dominate the sector.

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