Blockchain technology, in its various patented applications, is transforming online transactions through the use of distributed ledgers. Its uses are wide-ranging, from financial and payment systems to commodity trading and cryptocurrencies. Among the latest updates on blockchain is Ant Group’s launching of Trusple and UAE’s commodity trading in blockchain.
Ant Group has launched the blockchain platform, Trusple, which is short for “Trust Made Simple.” This is an international trade and financial service platform powered by blockchain-based technology solutions. The platform makes use of AntChain, a technology developed by online payment provider, Ant Group, a company backed by e-commerce conglomerate, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Trusple was designed to address problems between SMEs and financial institutions involved in cross-border trading. The platform does this by generating smart contracts between buyers and sellers that automatically updates with key information such as order placements, logistics, and tax refund options. AntChain on the Trusple platform works to process payment settlements through the generated smart contracts.
Standard Chartered Bank of Singapore has facilitated the first cross-border transaction using Trusple. The use of blockchain not only improves access to trade finance but also improves transparency and traceability across the entire supply chain. As a result, this will reduce the risk of fraud. The platform enables sellers to track and trace transactions to create a chain credit.
In general, blockchain technologies improve the efficiency of patent ecosystems because of how they promote simplicity, transparency, and the need for fewer intermediaries. It can foster innovation for companies that find the patent world difficult to access.
However, blockchains have their own sets of challenges. One of which is data aggregation that can lead to market power and abuse. This calls for careful governance as well as proper implementation to address this particular challenge.
China currently leads in terms of the number of blockchain patent applications filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) this year. Alibaba has filed more than 200 blockchain patents while other Chinese companies have their share of patent applications as part of their technology portfolio.
Many Chinese companies can support investments in blockchain technology patents because of strong governmental support. In fact, the Chinese central bank allocated 1% of its annual operating income for blockchain-related investments. This likely is part of China's efforts to dominate cyberspace in terms of global financial systems.
Despite the strides that China makes in terms of blockchain, the country’s former vice-minister for Science and Technology, Wu Zhongze, commented that the country's blockchain technology is relatively immature.
In an interview, Zhongze explained that while not at the top, China is not far behind with other leading countries like the United States when it comes to blockchain-based ecosystems. Despite this, the country needs to refine several aspects important for blockchain. But, notably, China has improved its hardware manufacturing, platform and security services, industry investment, and financial development to fully integrate and systematize blockchain technology. Zhongze added that China is experiencing a "rapid advancement" which paves way for a bright future ahead.
China’s blockchain infrastructure can also bring opportunities for the development of new technologies in AI, 5G, and industrial internet. Soon, these technologies will be among the country's biggest economic growth points.
A survey showed that many public-listed companies invest in blockchain research and development. Most of them spend about 20% of their annual revenues just for this purpose. These companies typically work with the national government to render social services and resolve state issues. Chinese companies also invest heavily to obtain technological patents as part of their effort to avoid trading sanctions that can happen in foreign markets.
Meanwhile, the Cryptocurrency Patent Alliance was established to promote open access to innovative technologies to avoid the potential issues associated with patent hoarding in blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies.
Blockchain technology continues to gain momentum across the world. In the Middle East, the UAE has launched its own blockchain commodity trading platform.
On October 21, 2020, Al Khaleej Sugar announced that it will start blockchain technology trading through DigitalSugar.io. This UAE-based platform allows the token trading of up to 100,000 tonnes of raw sugar. Each trader may hold tokens worth 1 kg to 1M tonnes. DigitalSugar.io will charge .4% for the exchange fees and 2.5% for the yearly storage fee. Universal blockchain will warrant the authenticity and ownership of the tokens.
This change aligns with the Emirate Blockchain Strategy 2021. Before 2020 ends, UAE aims to transfer at least 50% of government-related transactions onto distributed ledger technology (DLT) platforms. According to Vice President Sheikh Mohammed, blockchain technology will hasten, simplify, and economize government transactions. It will also help maximize the potential of how people can interact with the government in a manner best suited for their work and lifestyle.
Essentially, the UAE government aims to streamline operations and realize huge savings in transforming many governmental transactions paperless while making these transactions more efficient for its people.