Jack Ma, who happens to be the richest man in Asia by virtue of co-founding and leading the e-commerce giant Alibaba, seems to be a fan of distributed ledger technology but does not rate digital currencies at all. The executive chairman of the Alibaba Group believes there is a bubble forming in the most popular cryptocurrency but the underlying technology behind it holds a huge promise and potential for the future.
Speaking in a forum at the 2nd World Intelligence Conference in Tianjin, Ma claimed that, “Personally, I’m quite bullish about blockchain. Alibaba has been conducting research on blockchain for several years. […] There is no bubble for blockchain, but there’s a bitcoin bubble.“
The said research is bearing fruit as last year Alibaba was the world’s leader with 43 blockchain-related patent applications, comfortably leading over second-placed Bank of America which had 33 such postings. Ma believes that blockchain should be regarded as a security and anonymity solution, which simply cannot be ignored further down the road as the global trade grows even more.
“Social networks may not need blockchain, but we are doing internet finance in which we process trillions of trading volume. We have to turn to blockchain, otherwise, it would be fatal,” said Ma. However, probably the most successful entrepreneur of our time is vary there are a lot of speculators in the industry, viewing blockchain as a “huge gold mine.”
“Blockchain is a hot term nowadays, but not every company can work on the technology. Too many people are selling blockchain-related products, which concerns me.”
Despite being an outspoken advocate of the distributed ledger technology, Ma remains skeptical about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general and has been critical of them even during their boom in December, when bitcoin was close to reaching the coveted $20,000 mark.
Speaking to CNBC Shanghai at that time he admitted that, “I don’t know about Bitcoin at all. I’m particularly puzzled. Even if it can really work, the rules of global trade and the financial system will be completely changed. I don’t think we are ready. So I’m still paying attention to Alipay… to the US dollar, and the euro. We have a team that studies blockchain, but Bitcoin is not something that I want to pursue. We don’t care about Bitcoin.”
Alipay has proven to be a huge hit in Asia, as the app is reportedly closing in on 500 million users. Its success is a result of blockchain innovation to a significant degree, as the company started implementing the technology almost 2 years ago, in the summer of 2016. The following year Alipay started recruiting blockchain developers on a large scale, probably realizing the huge potential of the nascent technology.
It is also worth mentioning that blockchain in China is getting a lot of love from the institutional sphere as well. The distributed ledger technology was even included into the 13th five-year plan of China, for the years up to 2020.
Curiously, it seems that regulators share a similar outlook on the crypto industry as the Alibaba CEO. The Chinese government continues to tighten the grip on virtual currency exchanges and ICOs with new regulations being introduced on a regular basis.
At the same time blockchain innovation and adoption are also highly encouraged and it shows – in the first quarter of 2018, 41 percent of startups that received funding were blockchain-related. China is also in a pole position to become a global leader in the industry as over half of blockchain patent applications last year came from the Asian country.
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I have been following the crypto markets since mid 2017, just in time to witness the incredible surge of the digital asset industry. Fascinated by the potential of blockchain technology I’ve started to dig deeper and that’s how I ended up meeting the Toshi Times team. I hold a Political Science degree, therefore the crypto regulation development is particularly interesting for me. I’m also heavily involved with music, running my own label, a YouTube channel and working with distribution. People call blockchain the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and I believe it will change our daily lives in the coming years and we will have the front row seats to witness it.