Beijing’s local government on Tuesday released a two-year plan aimed at making the city a global hub for blockchain development and integrate the technology into its operations, from real estate to social credit.

Why it matters: Beijing is one of a handful of Chinese cities that has adopted blockchain. Nevertheless, the technology has typically made Chinese officials uneasy, and cryptocurrencies were completely banned in 2017.

  • With China’s capital actively trying to spur blockchain development and adoption, other cities are likely to follow suit.
  • The plan could lead to an unprecedented example of deploying blockchain in governing millions of people.
  • The government plans to set up a fund dedicated to blockchain, as well as a “talent training system” (our translation).

Details: The Beijing government wants to become an “influential” center for blockchain innovation, using the technology to promote “social and economic development” by 2022.

  • Beijing initially plans to build a unified identity and social credit platform. This will later serve as the basis for other blockchain-powered government services.
  • Blockchain will help the government keep track of people’s and businesses’ social credit through better information sharing, monitoring, and evaluation, according to the plan.
  • As a second step, Beijing aims to deploy blockchain in various domains. These include real estate registration, a first in China according to the Beijing municipality, property taxation, and electronic bills.
  • The government sees use cases in the domain of finance, specifically “supply chain finance, asset securitization, and cross-border payments.”
  • Other applications mentioned in the plan include law enforcement administration, medical data security, and traceability of e-commerce products.
  • The municipality will set up a special fund to allocate government funding to blockchain projects. The total amount was not disclosed.
  • Beijing also wants to set up blockchain hubs across the city, providing rent and research subsidies to startups.
  • The training system will add updated blockchain-focused materials to the training of government staff. It will also encourage blockchain companies to set up their own training centers.

Context: Since Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly advocated for blockchain adoption in October 2019, China’s local governments and entrepreneurs have rushed to take up his calls.

  • The southern Chinese province of Hainan is the most famous example of a blockchain hub in China. The island has attracted interest from major companies, including crypto exchange Huobi, which set up its headquarters there.
  • The central government is also backing a global “internet of blockchains” project. Red Date Technology is working with China UnionPay and China Mobile under the auspices of the State Administration Information Center to build a platform that aims to make developing blockchain applications cheaper around the world.
  • The various chains built on this platform will be able to exchange information with one another, a problem that hasn’t found a popular solution around the world.

Eliza was TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter until July 2021, when she moved to CoinDesk to cover crypto in Asia. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.

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