China Mobile is taking the lead in deploying China's new blockchain platform, now undergoing a nationwide pilot.
The giant telco is partnering with credit card firm China UnionPay and other agencies to run the Blockchain Service Network (BSN), described by the official Xinhua news service as "a national blockchain service infrastructure platform that spans public networks, regions and institutions."
The State Information Center (SIC), a government IT advisory agency which designed the BSN, announced the start of beta trials on October 15.
SIC deputy director Zhang Xueying said the new blockchain network would begin service after completing the trials, but he did not say when that would be. He said the BSN was intended to support smart cities and the digital economy.
The network would lower the technical and economic thresholds for blockchain applications and enable the rapid growth of the technology, SIC said.
Blockchain has become one of China's core technologies, like 5G and AI, with President Xi Jinping last month calling for greater urgency in developing the tech and taking the lead in global standardization.
China Mobile's role in the BSN is to run the infrastructure, which will eventually operate around the world.
Li Huidi, a China Mobile vice president, told a recent blockchain conference that virtually all the core technologies of the platform had been rolled out, with more than 50 city nodes deployed in 31 provinces.
He did not elaborate on China Mobile's role or its investment but said it would carry out "overall deployment" and fully support BSN operations. The network would leverage China Mobile's centralized operations and data centers as well as its local cloud resources, he said.
The operator would tip in more network resources as required, including additional nodes in China and internationally.
Li said the BSN would help drive monitoring and regulation of industry applications, and "monitor and manage all aspects of data in specific industries."
One obvious vertical application would be China's food supply chain, held in deep suspicion by Chinese consumers following a series of scandals.
Li said the BSN would break down information silos and enable integration of government data, while also enabling more effective financial supervision.
Additionally, it would play an important role in China's "Belt and Road" program. It would support "all future blockchain-based central bank digital currencies to ensure more effective management and operation of all trade, foreign business cooperation, cross-border project management and global data transmission."
Xinhua said one BSN pilot was running in Hangzhou, east China, with the aim of assisting "social governance and the urban intelligence platform."
Early use cases included supervision of hotel disinfection and monitoring road health and safety.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading