Ant Financial poised to adopt blockchain for business operations
It’s no secret that Alibaba’s Jack Ma sees the power of the blockchain. He has repeatedly spoken out of its virtues and expects big things for the technology’s future. Ant Financial, the company’s FinTech arm, recently scored $14 billion in funding for blockchain development, and it now looks like the subsidiary might be preparing to make the blockchain a fundamental part of its operations.
During a recent International City Event held by TechCrunch in Hangzhou, China, Ant Financial’s Blockchain Department head, Zhang Hui, said that the blockchain is going to be a major component of the firm’s business. His comments echoed those of Ma, but he added that the push will only be successful if the company is able to increase its capacity substantially in order to handle tens of thousands of transactions a second.
According to Technode, TechCrunch’s Chinese publication partner, “Looking forward, Zhang hopes that blockchain will create new business models for the company and not just provide value-added services. Zhang also hopes to expand their blockchain-based cross-border payment services globally and explore more B2C use cases.”
Alipay, Ant Financial’s payment platform and the world’s largest FinTech platform, is used extensively in lieu of cash for making payments. It outpaces Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay in virtually all Asian countries, including Thailand, Taiwan, China and Japan.
As a result of the focus on blockchain technology at Ant Financial, it’s conceivable that Alipay adopts the technology to manage its operations. Over the long term, Zhang is expected to implement the blockchain in all of its core businesses and platforms, something Ma has hinted at wanting since last year.
Zhang points out that the blockchain is the optimum solution due to its decentralization and immutability. Since it is capable of processing personal information and sensitive data in a peer-to-peer system without third-party intervention, it is more reliable, more efficient and more cost-effective.
Ant Financial is currently valued at around $150 billion, thanks in part to its focus on blockchains, along with the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, security and computing. Ma, who holds a controlling interest of Art Financial, sees a future built around the blockchain while, at the same time, questioning the prospects for longevity of Bitcoin. In June, he said, “It is…not right to become rich overnight by betting on blockchain. Technology itself isn’t the bubble, but bitcoin likely is.”
The richest man in Asia also speculated that the blockchain is a must for data privacy, sustainability and security. He doesn’t, however, feel that it is valid as a finance tool used to make money through projects such as new initial coin offerings (ICO) and emerging tokens.
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