Blockchain industry ‘least affected’ by virus, insiders say

By Li Xuanmin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/16 20:38:40

2019 International Blockchain Conference Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Institute of Electronics

China's booming blockchain sector seems to be sustaining limited impact from the fallout of the coronavirus, as most blockchain projects are collaborated on by engineers online, and the onslaught of the epidemic is opening up new fronts for the technology's application in financing and charity donations, industry insiders said.

The Global Times learned that most blockchain start-ups in China are awaiting government notices and plan to resume work in March. Some started working from home in early February. 

"Among all industries across China that opt for online communicating, blockchain is the best fit because most projects are open source and call for joint efforts from engineers through online work," a project manager of a Beijing-based blockchain start-up surnamed Zheng told the Global Times on Sunday.

Yuan Yuming, CEO of Chinese blockchain company Huobi China, told the Global Times that blockchain companies tend to hire globally and their employees work from remote offices.

For example, "our headquarters are in [South China's] Hainan Province, but we hire across China. So it's just a continuation of our normal work model during the outbreak of the coronavirus," Yuan said. But he noted that some start-ups that are looking to raise their profiles may suffer due to a freeze in niche sectors such as meet-ups, industry forums and presentations.  

Huobi has seen a seen a surge in daily active users amid the novel coronavirus epidemic, the company said, without disclosing detailed figures. In addition to Huobi, the Global Times also learned that the volume of transactions at China's major bitcoin trading platforms kept surging in recent days as more investors sit indoors and closely follow market information to trade cryptocurrencies.

"In the past, we invested as a hobby. But now returns from bitcoin investment are becoming my main source of income," a Beijing-based bitcoin investor surnamed Li told the Global Times. Li said he had "made a fortune" as the price of bitcoin has climbed by more than half since the beginning of 2020. 

Amid the outbreak of the coronavirus, which not only took the lives of hundreds of Chinese but also weighed on the operation of thousands of Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), blockchain technology is showing immense potential in financing and loan applications because of its tamper-resistance.

Beijing's financing services platform for SMEs issued a 44,000 yuan ($6,298.4) blockchain-based loan to a local software service provider on Friday. It was the first loan issued based on blockchain technology in Beijing. 

Nationwide, China's cross-border blockchain finance platform developed by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, has issued more than $200 million in loans to 87 companies since the Spring Festival holidays. 

Blockchain entrepreneur Justin Sun Yuchen told the Global Times that the technology could also be used in managing charity donations for fighting the virus to ensure transparency and efficiency.

On February 7, Alipay, backed by Alibaba, launched a blockchain-based medical supply gathering platform that is able to verify and record tamper-resistant information involving demand, supply and shipment of masks, protective suits and working caps. 


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