Ant Financial, fintech conglomerate of Chinese online mega-marketplace Alibaba, has stated it will incorporate blockchain tech into its core systems long-term.
Ant Financial: you may never have heard of it if you don’t live in Asia, but its payment platform Alipay is one of the biggest payments facilitators in the region, bigger than Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, and Android Pay in most Asian countries.
It is part of Jack Ma’s $450+ billion valued Alibaba empire and recently raised significant investment from investors worldwide pumping its own value up to a whopping $150 billion.
Now Zhang Hui, director of the appropriately-named ‘Blockchain Department’ at Ant Financial has named blockchain as one of five fundamental technological areas the company sees as transformative and at the core of its business long-term. The other four are identified as Artificial Intelligence, Security, the Internet of Things and Computing.
Zhang said the company is currently testing blockchain, with a view to implementing it at a large commercial scale in future.
Zhang and his team see the immutability and decentralised aspects of blockchain as the core of its appeal, however at current, scalability issues present the biggest obstacles to overcome. Until there is real progress on scalability, and transaction processing can handle 10,000+ transactions per second, large industry players will be reluctant to move in. However, solving this is just a matter of time.
Jack Ma, the multi-billionaire and philanthropist behind the Alibaba online marketplace which owns Ant Financial, has previously been negative about bitcoin, despite being bullish about blockchain.
“It is…not right to become rich overnight by betting on blockchain. Technology itself isn’t the bubble, but bitcoin likely is,” Ma has said.
Ma is majority shareholder at Ant Financial and hopes that blockchain can be used to markedly improve the customer experience, providing solutions to data privacy, security and sustainability issues, rather than just being a platform on which cryptocurrencies and tokens are created and traded.
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Alex has been putting words on paper since he was old enough to hold a pen; when he bought his first bitcoin in January 2017, those words discovered their place within crypto as well. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his special expertise lies in European cryptocurrency regulation.