China is likely to take the lead in adopting blockchain — a type of technology originally developed as a digitized public ledger for cryptocurrency transactions — in the real economy, an industry white paper says.
The government has expedited the first national standard for such technology and a complete industrial chain has emerged, the white paper said.
Over the next three years, the cutting-edge technology is expected to be widely integrated into sectors such as product traceability, copyright protection, bill verification, precision marketing, energy and healthcare, said Yu Jianing, director of the Institute of Industrial Economics at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Blockchain's hallmark is decentralization. Data can be shared among a distributed network of computers with no need for middlemen. Once recorded in a blockchain-based ledger, data can't be altered.
According to the white paper recently released by the ministry's Information Center, a complete industrial chain for the blockchain sector has emerged in China, ranging from hardware manufacturing, platform and security services, to application services, investment, media and human resources services. As of March, the number of blockchain tech companies in China exceeded 456.
"Blockchain tech's adoption into the real economy will make cross-industry digital collaboration a reality, which can reduce operation costs and improve efficiency," Yu, an author of the white paper, told China Daily on Monday.
Yu said blockchain-enabled food traceability could facilitate collaboration among producers, processors and retailers in areas like checking accounts.
"Blockchain tech can establish a reliable platform for government supervision of food safety, while improving life quality of Chinese and even global consumers," Yu said.
The year 2017 marked the peak year for blockchain development in China, with 178 new companies in the sector. Tech giants like Alibaba Group, Tencent Holdings and JD.com also are exploring its uses.
In December, the Standardization Administration approved a project to establish the country's first national standard for blockchain technology.
The standard is expected to be ready as soon as the end of 2019, said the Economic Information Daily, citing Li Ming, director of the blockchain research institute at the ministry. It will cover operations and applications, processing and methodology and information security.
Industry standards are indispensable for sustainable and healthy development, said Deng Huan, head of Baimaohui.net, a Beijing-based research body. "Blockchain tech companies need to ramp up their efforts to ensure the safety of their businesses, as losses caused by security breaches have risen exponentially since 2017," Deng said.
Ma Si contributed to this story.