A new research paper from China’s central bank said blockchain doesn’t pose a threat to the global financial system but called for close oversight by governments of blockchain and related cryptocurrencies.

“So far, there has been no technology innovation that could overwhelm the modern financial system, and blockchain will not be an exception,” the article concluded. “Cryptocurrencies lack value and credibility granted by sovereignty, therefore can not jeopardize or replace legal currencies.”

The report from the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) research arm, which was issued on November 6 and titled “What blockchain can and cannot do,” comes amid continued scrutiny and control of the boom blockchain sector. On September 4, PBoC declared that Initial Coin Offering (ICO) activities and related services including community management are illegal in China.

The research paper said that its contents represents only the researchers’ “academic opinions” and was not the central bank’s policy preference.

Still the 20,000-Chinese character paper is widely seen as an important signal of Beijing’s official attitude toward blockchain and the country’s crypto communities. Several prominent media outlets—including the influential blockchain BlockBeats, which publishes on the WeChat platform,  and Caijing—published key excerpts.

The article is the fourth report on the topic published by the PBoC’s research division this year alone.

In addition to outlining some fundamental blockchain concepts including “consensus, ” “trustless,” and “tokens,” the report addressed governance and security as they pertain to the blockchain industry.

China’s blockchain investment environment is replete with “bubbles” and illegal activities are “common,” the report said. “Government bodies shall strengthen the supervision, and prevent financial risks.”

The report did not give details or examples of what constitutes acceptable use of blockchain in China.

In late October, China’s Cyberspace Administration of China released a draft policy on blockchain regulation for public feedback. The draft proposed blockchain service providers in China to gather real-name information from their users as well as provide data for government inspection, which stirred heated discussion regarding the decentralization principle among Chinese blockchain communities.

Meanwhile, state-backed institutions are taking a leading part in China’s blockchain trend. The central bank held 33 blockchain patents by the end of 2017, ranking 3rd globally in terms of patent numbers, among all blockchain patent holding institutions worldwide. In October, state-backed People’s Daily rolled out a blockchain section.

Runhua Zhao is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Connect with her via email: runhuazhao@technode.com

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