When it comes to blockchain technology—blockchain patents in particular—one company stands out from every other. Alibaba [BABA] is leading the pack in blockchain patent and they are proud of it. “We are the most patented company in the world of blockchain technology,” Jing Xiandong, CEO of Alibaba ’s financial arm Ant Financial said.
Of the 406 patent applications related to blockchain in 2017, Alibaba had 43, second only to People’s Bank of China (PBOC) who filed 68. Alibaba’s blockchain patents covered areas of invention, design, and utility. It goes a long way to show the efforts the multifaceted internet giants are making in the area of blockchain innovation. One of the more interesting landmarks of Alibaba’s blockchain efforts is The Ant Financial blockchain 2.0 released by Alibaba’s financial arm. The platform has evolved from the initial blockchain 1.0 to become an open platform for self-operation and decentralization.
Blockchain patents aren’t the only proof of Alibaba’s strong showing in Blockchain related endeavors. The e-commerce giant seems to know a lot about more blockchain than many others giving priority to this emerging technology. To date, Alibaba has scored huge points for its blockchain partnerships, blockchain innovations, and adoption.
Companies and organizations globally are exploring the possibility of using blockchain supply chain. One sure benefit is that it brings transparency to the supply chain. Blockchain can help, for anything from, tackling counterfeiting, recording transaction details or fighting poor labor conditions along the supply chain.
Alibaba would not be left behind in this movement. The Chinese giant will rather pioneer efforts in the blockchain space than lose out on early gains of blockchain adoption. So far, it has adopted blockchain to fight food fraud, secure medical data and track cross-border shipments.
Alibaba e-commerce subsidiaries Lynx and T-Mall adopt blockchain technology.
Alibaba, through its subsidiary Lynx International, integrated blockchain technology to track information in its cross-border logistics services. With the successful application of blockchain, Lynx can all keep an immutable record of shipment information such as production, transportation, customs, inspection and any third party verification.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “Although the concept of blockchain has only recently started to emerge, it has a very wide range of applications” Tang Ren -The technical Director, Lynxx [/perfectpullquote]
For a shipping and logistics arm like Lynx, security and transparency cannot be overemphasized. It’s really no surprise Alibaba looked no further than blockchain.
More recently, another of Alibaba’s subsidiaries, T-Mall in partnership with Cainiao adopted blockchain technology for its cross-border supply chain. Similar to the Lynx project, blockchain is being used to track information about shipments from over 50 countries.
Alibaba uses blockchain technology to Fight Counterfeit Food
In 2016, IBM announced a collaboration with key food producers and distributors including Dole, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever, and Walmart to reduce contamination in the global food supply chain.
Alibaba was early to the party. The e-commerce giants already had an agreement with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) to tackle China’s food security challenges. The “Food Trust Framework” that originated from this partnership will use blockchain to track products from producer to consumer.
In an effort to improve healthcare in China starting from Changzhou where the company operates from, Alibaba once again drew upon the benefits of blockchain technology. The company in partnership with the Chinese government hopes to create a “trusted environment for transactions”.
Blockchain will be used to share patients’ medical records with doctors in a very efficient manner.
BASIC, which stands for “Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Security, Internet of Things and Cloud Computing” serves as Alibaba’s strategy towards emerging technologies including blockchain. The guide was released at a Computing Conference in October 2017.
Despite Alibaba’s enviable strides in blockchain technology, the group seems to have a well written and rehearsed script that gives no room for cryptocurrencies. This goes way up to—or come right down from—the billionaire founder, Jack Ma who has little interest cryptos.
Lynx’s Jing echoed his boss’ sentiment when he noted that the cryptocurrency sector was full of rampant speculation a lot similar to the period of the Internet bubble of the 1990s. He revealed that his company “[had] drawn a clear line with ICOs.”
Mr. Ma has been very pessimistic about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. While his competitors like JD and Tencent were open about the idea of accepting cryptos, Alibaba’s founder has little to say in favor of bitcoin. He shared an honest concern about the prospects of cryptocurrencies. “I said honestly, I know very little about it, and I’m totally confused. Even if it works, the whole international rules on trade and financing are going to be completely changed.”
Of course, we wouldn’t believe Jack Ma is as ignorant about bitcoin like he claims, it’s easy to see that’s he’s probably being realistic given China’s tough stance on cryptocurrencies. The Asian nation has in place regulations against cryptocurrency activities within its borders.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“We should be cautious about bitcoin. Its underlying technology, however, is really powerful. I pay more attention to a cashless society and the blockchain technology. And I am not shameful that I don’t know about bitcoin.” Jack Ma.[/perfectpullquote]
Against the run of play, news broke last Octobers that Alibaba was setting up virtual cryptocurrency mining nodes. Coming days after China sent cryptocurrency operator packing, crypto faithful took the news as a source of hope. But soon after the news broke, Alibaba dashed the hopes through a statement issued on Weibo (a microblogging platform) stating that the P2P nodes are for the company’s content distribution network (CDN) business, not that of crypto mining or of virtual currency.
But it has nothing to do with the Chinese Internet giant except a lawsuit. The developers of the cryptocurrency, ABBC Foundation are currently having an ICO crowdsale for the token that bears a strikingly similar name to Alibaba.
As expected, promoters of the Alibabacoin ICO have been swarmed with questions about its connection with the e-commerce giants. They responded with a press statement stating that the project is not related to Alibaba in any way.
Alibaba’s legal team, however, thinks differently. They accused Alibabacoin Foundation and 4 other defendants of knowingly deceiving the public using its (Alibaba’s) trademark in public materials.