Blockchain in Focus for Major Chinese Banks

- September 4th, 2018

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will be focusing on blockchain technology, as well as big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China will begin testing a blockchain trade finance platform.

Two of China’s largest banks are cashing in on blockchain technology –at least according to local Chinese reports.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) (SHA:601398) has made its plans known to begin using blockchain as well as other technological advancements, BiaNews reported on September 1.

According to the publication, the bank’s chairman, Yi Huiman, said the institution will focus on a wide range of technologies, including big data, artificial intelligence, the internet of things and — of course — blockchain.

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ICBC was incorporated in 1984 and officially began listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited on October 27, 2006.

In over three decades, the bank has grown to serve more than 500 million customers and over 5,000 corporate businesses.

Late last year, ICBC shifted its focus to develop “intelligent banking” and “accelerated deployment in the field of financial technologies”–which includes blockchain.

BiaNews in its report said the institution will work to find solutions for “smart banking application scenarios” to boost services as well as protecting financial information shared with additional parties.

Meanwhile the People’s Bank of China has already rolled out phase one testing for its blockchain trade finance platform, Shanghai Securities News reported on Tuesday (September 4).

The local outlet said that the bank entered the phase of the “Bay Area Trade Finance Blockchain Platform” ahead of schedule and after two months of “closed development.”

According to Shanghai Securities News, the platform’s goal is to conduct trade and financing activities backed by blockchain. In the project’s first phase, those activities included accounts receivable and trade financing.

The platform is to also provide a regulatory system for users to view and monitor in real-time financial activities. According to Shanghai Securities News, the platform will be an “open financial and trade ecosystem based on the Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau Bay Area.”

Organizations involved in the platform’s coordination include the People’s Bank of China Shenzhen Central Branch, Shenzen Financial Science and Technology Research institute unites Bank of China, China Construction Bank, China Merchants Bank, Ping An Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and BYD Co., Ltd.

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According to the report, analysts have said the platform can “help banks to conduct t business authenticity audit[s], reduce business costs, improve business efficiency [and] prevent and control business risks,” as some of the key features. It is also said the platform can help “enhance information sharing between departments and jointly build a trade finance ecosystem.”

Over the course of 2017, it’s reported that nearly half of the publicly listed Chinese banks have started turning to blockchain. According to a report from Chinese outlet CEBNet in May, 12 out of 26 banks said in their annual financial reports that they had begun adopting blockchain applications throughout the course of last year.

“By disclosing the annual reports of the application of the online blockchain, it is known that the practice of blockchain technology in listed banks is mainly for cross-border business and bill business, and some banks have innovatively applied blockchain to loan credit and user identity,” the report said.

The trend has continued in 2018, with institutions like Ping An Insurance Company of China (SHA:601318) revealing in August its “Ping An Smart City White Paper,” that promotes blockchain and other innovative technologies.

While China is reputably known for its ban on cryptocurrencies, it is clear the government is ensuring blockchain technology is a part of its ongoing plans for the foreseeable future.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Technology for real-time news updates! 

Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

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