Alibaba, Ping An’s OneConnect top blockchain patent rankings: report

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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Ping An’s fintech arm OneConnect, and state-owned telecom operator China Unicom are the top three blockchain patent holders in China, according to a report published Wednesday by Chinese blockchain analytics firm Block Data.

Why it matters: Interest in China’s blockchain industry soared following President Xi Jinping’s recent remarks on the importance of fast-tracking the country’s blockchain development.

  • While the general sentiment around the emerging technology remains upbeat and a slew of large companies are committing significant resources to developing relevant applications, blockchain commercialization in China remains nascent.
  • The Chinese government is supportive of blockchain development but policies are still underway.

Details: Alibaba, OneConnect, and China Unicom were ranked the top three companies in blockchain capabilities in China. The report ranked businesses based on the number of blockchain applications filed or approved, the extent of patent protection, and the number of patent citations, among others. Other notable companies in the top 10 include tech giants Baidu and Tencent, Chinese insurer Ping An Group, and mining rig maker Bitmain.

  • For fintech-related blockchain patents, OneConnect tops the chart, followed by Alibaba and China Unicom. Other names within the top ten include Tencent as well as its digital banking affiliate WeBank, JD’s financial arm JD Digits, and other state-owned enterprises.
  • The number of companies in China with a blockchain-related business surpassed the 100,000 mark in the third quarter, during which a staggering 70,000 companies entered the blockchain space—a 265% increase from the previous quarter.
  • More than half of the blockchain projects in China are financial services applications.
  • Of blockchain patents filed in China, 34% are for related transaction systems, 30% are for infrastructure, 27% relate to information security, and 5% are for digital currency.
  • China generates the highest number of blockchain patent applications, yet 93% remain pending in status. Furthermore, the majority of the approved patents have not been licensed for use.
  • The firm compiled and analyzed data up to Oct. 31 from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA).

Context: The Chinese government sees blockchain development as crucial to boosting its prowess in technology.

  • The Standardization Administration of China (SAC), an organization authorized by the State Council of China, announced on Wednesday that it had established a national standards committee for blockchain technology—a move expected to boost the country’s high-tech innovation.
  •  China is quickly outpacing its peers including the US, Japan, and South Korea in blockchain-related patent filings, Japanese research firm Astamuse said in a recent report. Chinese firms and government organizations filed a combined 7,600 blockchain-related patent applications from 2009 to 2018.