In a country of centralized authority, a decentralized database is booming. In China, the trend is now building a new business model on top of the blockchain. Blockchain technology is a chain of blocks that each contains data, acting as a way to record what time the data was inserted into it. The cool thing about blockchain is that it’s decentralized, which allows for transactions to occur between parties without the need for a 3rd-party to establish trust.
In the global blockchain landscape, we are now seeing a Ukrainian blockchain-based Wifi router, energy projects in Eastern Europe, decentralized computing, storage, and VPN networks. In China, Qtum (pronounced Quantum) is now becoming a toolset and a platform for companies to build their business on top of the blockchain.
“Now you can build any business on top of the blockchain without intermediary costs and without friction.” Patrick Dai, co-founder and CEO of Qtum (量子链 in Chinese, meaning quantum chain) told TechNode.
The Shanghai-based blockchain company has their own cryptocurrency called Qtum, which now ranks in the top 20 on CryptoCurrencies Market Capitalization index and provides a blockchain application platform to execute “smart contracts” with a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. This means that people can facilitate, execute and enforce the negotiation or performance of an agreement, such as a contract, using blockchain technology. The advantage of the Qtum is that it utilizes the core technology from both Bitcoin and Ethereum.
“Blockchain in China is hot these days. Currently, 7 companies are building a business on top of Qtum,” Patrick says.
These seven companies include a Singapore-based blockchain company that announced their first Initial Coin Offering (ICO) on top of Qtum. Energo, uses blockchain technology and smart meters to connect energy producers and consumers in microgrids with traditional electricity users to achieve point-to-point energy trading and energy supply. Other projects building on top of Qtum include Bodhi, a decentralized prediction market, and Vevue, a platform for monetizing digital content.
“Many of these blockchain companies are registered in Singapore, but they are focusing on the Chinese market,” John Scianna, Marketing Director at Qtum told TechNode.
Blockchain trends in China
The Chinese government is also showing positive reactions to this trend of blockchain development, pushing forward the development of blockchain in the coming three years, as blockchain is mentioned in China’s five-year plan (2016-2020) as one of the most promising technologies. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is doing research on blockchain technology and completed a successful trial run of self-developed digital currency that uses a limited implementation of blockchain technology.
Patrick also mentioned that authorities will seek to clarify regulations for blockchain projects this year and provide some guidance to help develop the industry.
“The regulation will come for sure and it’s good for the industry. Without regulation, it’s the wild west and it’s not good for the people and for their security,” Patrick said. “It’s a new way for people to collaborate and to build a reward structure to change the idea of VCs and crowdfunding.”
Qtum, as a platform provider for “smart contracts”, is at an early stage to get more adoption in the main society, and Patrick mentioned that the team will slowly build up trust on their blockchain platform.
“We are building trust, not by people, but by blockchain in a decentralized way,” Patrick remarked. “If the blockchain-based smart contracts become popular, the government will make smart contracts legally binding later on.”
Qtum from a consumer product perspective
Patrick Dai, CEO of Qtum was chosen as one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30“, 300 people in Greater China under the age of 30. Forbes China recognized him for his accomplishments in the category of consumer technology. Is blockchain really considered to be a consumer technology? Patrick sees that a consumer product depends on the matter of trust.
“If you see P2P technology as a business model, you aren’t relying on the middleman. Using blockchain, you don’t need escrow, because blockchain is the escrow. The blockchain is offering trust on top of it,” Patrick explains.
An escrow service is someone that holds users’ money when users make a deal to assure their promise. So the blockchain technology can replace the people who do this service. For example, using blockchain, people can make a blockchain-powered application as a counterparty and automate this on blockchain through their computer.
“Each smart contract is a virtual escrow, and this lowers the cost for both parties. The blockchain smart contract program doesn’t sleep,” he said. “You can create 1,000 virtual small escrows this way. It’s like people because they perform the same service.”
Patrick gave an example: China’s biggest real estate company Lianjia has 10,000 people in charge of contract signature and approval, repeating the same process every day for apartment owners, renters, and buyers.
“You don’t need those people. All you need to do is to sign the contract directly, and it’s effective immediately. You can trust each other,” he says. “Blockchain will become the basic architecture and infrastructure like TC/IP protocol. Just like you have a browser as a gateway to the internet, you need a gateway to the blockchain. Qtum is this gateway. Blockchain is the value, like a piece of the house or like a dollar.”
Because of the blockchain, current business models will change, new business models will emerge, and some people will lose their jobs. Patrick says, in some ways, it improves the society.
“Those people who lost their jobs because of changing business models can do other stuff, and it could increase the efficiency of whole society. You don’t need to waste human capital on repetitive tasks,” Patrick said.