China’s Blockchain Network should rattle our cage

When I launched Deep Analysis three years ago, one of the core research areas we focused upon was Enterprise Blockchain. Over those years, we have seen a divergence emerge between the US and the Rest of the World. We have been fortunate enough to advise upon and supervise blockchain deployments in The Philippines, Colombia, Brazil & Italy, and this week published a report on the launch of a massive enterprise Blockchain network in China. In the US, by contrast, we hear crickets. 

That’s not to say nothing is happening in the US. You can check out our latest podcast with one of the founders of the Boston Blockchain Association. Still, despite efforts by a minority, North America is falling far behind the curve, and that should worry us mainly as we are also falling behind the curve in Edge Computing and AI. Something is seriously amiss, and the speed of change overseas suggests we need to have a serious discussion about where we are heading.

In September 2019, the Chinese government published a white paper proposing the development of a nationwide, and ultimately global blockchain network. In April 2020, the Blockchain Services Network (BSN) launched, with 128 cities connected and plans to extend that to 200 cities by the end of the year. It’s massively ambitious, aggressive even. But the bottom line China now has a nationwide, easily accessible, low costs blockchain network. Available for developers to develop upon, one that will link into and provide the backbone for internal and international trading and secure data exchange.

We have nothing similar here, nor plans for anything similar. Partly that’s down to culture and politics. It’s one thing for a country like China to invest heavily in public infrastructure, another mountain entirely for the US to climb. But its also endemic of a lack of vision. The dot com boom was a long time ago now, and our technology sector seems content to focus on building tweaked new versions of old technology. It lacks vision, ambition, and a taste for disruption, our tech sector talks a lot about Digital Transformation, but we might be better transposing the word ‘Transformation’ for ‘Makeover’.  It’s the equivalent of thinking that new wallpaper will fix architectural challenges.

Oracle, SAP & IBM all have impressive Blockchain credentials; within those organizations, there are people with vision and ambition. But we need that excitement to be reflected if not driven at a higher level within society. Change is on the horizon like it or not; the question is whether we will lead the change or if we are going to get dragged along unwillingly.

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