By Wang Zhe
“The blockchain revolution has arrived,” declared Xu Xiaoping, a famous Chinese investor, on his WeChat social media account. “We should open our arms to embrace it. Do not stand there envying others or look at it with indifference. We should dash into the industry right now to study and take action.” Recently, blockchain has moved like a tornado through China and Southeast Asia.
The blockchain industry is growing fast in China, where various companies emerge daily and blockchain-related stocks are rising sharply. Some companies took advantage of the blockchain heat to go public. Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia are also beginning to explore and adopt blockchain technology. They hope experts from internationally leading countries like China will help them boost economic growth by developing blockchain technology.
Great Potential in Southeast Asia
Recently, the Chinese website IPRdaily joined incoPat, an innovation research indexing center, to release a report on the 2017 Top 100 Global Blockchain Patent Holders, which showed that China is the leading country. Of the top 100 companies, 49 were Chinese, 23 from the U.S., and of the top 10, seven are Chinese and only two are from the U.S. “The Chinese government strongly supports the development and application of blockchain technology by funding the technology research,” explains Yu Linmin, “In the blockchain sector, there aren’t any leading enterprises yet, so the potential is huge. Many ‘unicorn’ companies could appear.” In particular, he pointed out that revolutionary blockchain technology can break geographical restrictions to fulfill its great potential in Southeast Asia. This area will become a big market for blockchain technology.
Since 2015, Development Bank of Singapore has been researching blockchain technology. According to its report, Southeast Asia covers a vast territory with many countries featuring different conditions, which limit their cooperation in economics. The algorithm and system of blockchain technology could help establish trust between those countries. If the technology is fully implemented, regional productivity could be significantly enhanced.
A torchbearer of blockchain technology in Southeast Asia, the Singaporean government has launched extensive study of the technology as it strives to build a “smart country.” Presently, the nation is working to use blockchain to take the place of a centralized registration system and set up a blockchain-based trading network. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have also been working on the technology. Many experts believe now is a good time for Southeastern countries to lead the innovation by using blockchain for bank transfers and healthcare records. It can even improve the accountability and transparency of the government and help to fight corruption.
Of all Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam uses cash the most, so blockchain is just emerging in the country. Still, it is home to several finance-technology start-ups working to build the necessary infrastructure for an ecological system of blockchain technology. Vietnam boasts a young demographic structure with 70 percent of its population under 30, who are hungry for new technology. “In my country, the entrance for blockchain in the public service sector is healthcare records and supervisory technology, which matches the needs of the government,” says Nicolay Nguyen, marketing manager of Infinity Blockchain Labs of Ho Chi Minh City.
Since last year, many forums themed on blockchain technology have flourished in Southeastern countries. Chinese experts have been frequent attendees. Just in the first half of March this year, three blockchain technology forums were held in three different cities.
On March 7, the First ASEAN Blockchain Global Summit Forum was held in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. The Cambodia Blockchain Industry Development Association organized the event, aiming to establish an international communications platform for research and application of blockchain technology, further encourage ASEAN countries to join the wave of Fine Tech and contribute “Cambodian wisdom” to the world. Entapay, the first blockchain project authorized by the Cambodian government, was also formally launched. “This forum highlighted friendship between Cambodia and China, which will help the two countries develop more trust, conduct more concrete and influential cooperation and harvest more fruits,” remarked Men Sam An, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia.
In a speech at the forum, Chinese economist Wang Fuzhong pointed out that blockchain technology embodies advanced productivity. In terms of the consensus mechanism of blockchain technology, everyone is the center, which represents the direction of advanced cultures. Blockchian not only serves “long tail clients” neglected by banks but also solves the problem of scarce financial services in developing countries.
From March 7 to 8, Vietnam Blockchain Week was held in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. The first of its kind in the country, the event drew 1,500 experts from blockchain and financial sectors around the world including China to discuss topics related to blockchain technology. To mark the occasion, the head of Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology called on global blockchain experts to help the country develop blockchain technology to promote economic growth.
On March 10, the First Bigchain Global Summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, attracting 800 scholars and experts of top blockchain organizations and enterprises from China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Canada, Australia and the U.S. The summit launched the publication of Financial Technology Headline, a magazine focused on blockchain technology, and the establishment of an international certification authority which will jointly offer a course with the University of Malaya.