Alibaba’s cloud computing arm, Alibaba Cloud, has expanded its blockchain-as-a-service (Baas) platform internationally.
The company previously offered the services to users in China but has now entered into Southeast Asian, US, and European markets.
Alibaba Cloud allows enterprise-level blockchain applications on Hyperledger Fabric, a Hyperledger project hosted by The Linux Foundation, and Ant Blockchain—developed by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial.
Businesses use BaaS platforms to build blockchain environments and manage their development, deployment, operation, and security. The platform can be likened to those provided by a web hosting service, which handles infrastructure and maintenance issues.
BaaS uses the consortium blockchain, differing from public blockchains in that it is permissioned, meaning not everyone has access to it, and selected nodes are tasked with generating consensus.
In a statement, Yi Li, senior staff engineer and lead of Alibaba Cloud Blockchain Service said the aim is to enable companies to use blockchain in their digital transformation.
Alibaba is not the first major Chinese player to offer BaaS. In August, JD.com launched its “JD Blockchain Open Platform,” allowing enterprise clients to develop blockchain applications. Tencent and Baidu have launched similar platforms.
However, Alibaba currently holds a monopoly on blockchain patents in China. The company filed a total of 43 in 2017 alone, 10% of the global total. Its affiliate Ant Financial considers blockchain technology as one of the five key technologies—Blockchain, AI, Security, IoT, and Computing (dubbed “BASIC”)—which it believes will dominate every industry in the near future.
Ant Financial launched a blockchain-based cross-border remittance service in June, allowing users to send money between Hong Kong and The Philippines. Ant Financial said it is working with local partners to expand the service globally.
At home, China is pushing the development of blockchain technology. The local government and private sector have begun using the technology in everything from tax invoices to medical prescriptions. However, it is increasingly developing Chinese characteristics.
Recently published draft regulations could shake up the Chinese blockchain industry as a whole by requiring blockchain-based service providers to register with the government, and users to register their real names when using the platforms.