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China’s Ant Financial Touts Blockchain, Nixes ICO Chatter

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Gerelyn Terzo
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

Jing Xiandong, Ant Financial’s chief executive, called the blockchain “a cornerstone of trust” but dashed any hopes that the payments leader will pursue an initial coin offering. Xiandong, who also goes by Eric, set the record straight at the annual China Development Forum over the weekend.

“The core of the blockchain lies in using technology to create a multi-party trust mechanism. Imagine if the participating parties trust the figures and objects if the world is fully digitalized. The authenticity of assets is a great challenge. In this sense, the blockchain has a very positive significance and is a cornerstone of the trust of the digital society in the future.” — Xinadong

The Ant Financial executive also likened ICOs to China’s white wolf rebellion of the early 20th century, providing his view of what’s unfolded in the market thus far. He pointed to worthless tokens and useless white papers, surmising that the blockchain is “stuck in the hype concept.”

But Xiandong has a sanguine outlook on blockchain’s future, predicting that within a few years, the froth will dissipate and real value will emerge. Ant Financial parent company Alibaba reportedly leads the way for blockchain patent applications in China. In the next couple of years, blockchain can gain great scale, he said, but not ICOs.

“So far, we are the world’s most patented company of blockchain technology. But I don’t think we [will] have anything to do with ICO,” he said.

4 Hurdles

The Ant Financial executive didn’t just offer his opinion. He backed it up with the hurdles he believes are standing in the way of blockchain gaining scale. No. 1 is security, he said, pointing to a decentralized public ledger that is vulnerable to breaches.

Next is the challenge of striking a balance between offering security to users while at the time protecting that sensitive data. No. 3 was the problem of transaction times, especially for cross-border transactions. Lastly, he pointed to the issue of an “incentive mechanism” to “promote the efficient collaboration of the value chain.”

In addition to Ant Financial, an executive at shipping company Maersk discussed the market and believes the blockchain can bolster transparency in the global supply chain.

China banned ICOs last year, but Alibaba also trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Publicly traded companies that are pursuing tokens sales include Eastman Kodak and game maker Atari, to name a couple. Meanwhile, fellow payments platform PayPal’s board member Wences Casares recently said, “the blockchain doesn’t exist without bitcoin.”

FEatured image from Shutterstock.