The cloud computing division of China’s largest online retailer Alibaba has announced the expansion of its Blockchain as a Service offering beyond its domestic market.
In a statement, Alibaba Cloud disclosed that the blockchain service will now be available in the United States as well as countries in Europe and South East Asia.
"Our customers in China have already experienced the benefits from our BaaS platform and we are excited to extend this service to other enterprise customers all over the world," wrote Alibaba Cloud in a press release.
Alibaba Cloud’s Blockchain as a Service supports not just The Linux Foundation-affiliated Hyperledger Fabric blockchain application but also Ant Blockchain which was developed by Ant Financial, a financial services affiliate of the giant online retailer. Officially launched last year in October, some of the applications that the Blockchain as a Service offering of Alibaba supports include smart contracts, consortium blockchain management, automatic deployment and various Software Development Kit applications.
‘Blockchain not Bitcoin’
Despite the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, being known for his anti-bitcoin stance, the online retail giant has emerged as a big believer and booster of blockchain technology. According to Ma, the distributed ledger technology can be harnessed to bring about a cashless society while eliminating social ills such as corruption.
“I pay special attention to cashless society and blockchain technology. Mine and Alibaba’s job is we will move the world into a cashless society," CCN recently reported Ma as having said. "The society can make everybody equal, inclusive to get the money they need, make sure it is sustainable and is transparent. I hate corruption. I don’t have opportunity is ok. But I don’t want somebody through a dirty way take away my opportunity. This is why we want a cashless society.”
Already, Alibaba has invested heavily in the research and development of the distributed ledger technology and as reported early last month the online retail giant was responsible for filing more than 10% of all the blockchain patents in the world in 2017.
Per the reports, 406 blockchain patents were issued in 2017 and 43 of them had been filed by Alibaba, with other Chinese tech giants such as online search engine Baidu and internet conglomerate Tencent Holdings following closely.
One of the areas Alibaba is applying blockchain technology applications is in enhancing the traceability of food with a view of curbing counterfeits. In 2017, for instance, the online retail giant partnered with postal services entity Australia Post and natural health firm Blackmores in using the distributed ledger technology to ensure that only genuine food products were shipped to China from Australia.
Additionally, Alibaba’s logistics subsidiary, Lynx International, is also applying blockchain technology in its cross-border shipping business.
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