The local government of Beijing released on Thursday a blueprint of its plan to implement a blockchain-based programmable government.

Why it matters: This is the first time China’s capital city has laid out details of how it will implement blockchain in its operations.

Details: The government’s main goals in the plan are to build a blockchain-based unified framework for digital governance, facilitate data-sharing between agencies and businesses, and enable cross-departmental and cross-regional collaboration.

  • The 145-page blueprint lays out only the first steps in achieving the most ambitious blockchain project in a mega city like Beijing.
  • The city wants to reap the efficiency and trust benefits of blockchain-based governance, but also become a global hub for the development and application of distributed ledger technology.
  • Deliberation to select the 12 application cases to spearhead the project began in November, just weeks after Xi Jinping’s speech.

Beijing’s 12 blockchain application cases

Project NameFunctionGoals
Municipal Commercial Bureau Airport International Logistics Blockchain PlatformLogistics, cross-border tradeData sharing between merchants, logistics operators, customs authorities, regulators, airport authorities to facilitate customs in cross-border air cargo trade.
Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Port Customs ClearanceLogistics, cross-border tradeData sharing between port authorities, tax agencies, and customs authorities to coordinate between port terminals.
City Financial Electronic Identity Authentication SystemEnterprise banking Reduce time and application materials, while ensuring identity authentication in enterprise banking.
City Electronics Bills System BillingImprove the ability of businesses to issue bills and track reimbursement.
Haidian District Finance Platform for SMEsFinance for SMEsImprove access to capital for SMEs and risk management for their lenders.
Municipal Real Estate Registration SystemProperty management Revamp the management of real estate, including mortgages, deposits, utility bills, tax audits, and more.
Multi-terminal Business Licensing System Enterprise Regulation Improve authentication processes for businesses, as well as collaboration between firms through electronic certificates.
Internet+Government Haidian District PilotE-governanceCreate a “national benchmark” for comprehensive blockchain-powered government. More than 100 government agencies will implement blockchain for managing anything from high-tech enterprises to unemployment benefits.
Xicheng District Government Services PilotE-governanceImprove bureaucratic efficiency for various government services through data sharing and electronic certificates.
Chaoyang District Government Services Pilot E-governanceImprove bureaucratic efficiency for various government services through data sharing and electronic certificates.
Shunyi District Government Services PilotE-governanceImprove bureaucratic efficiency for various government services through data sharing, smart contracts and electronic certificates.
Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone Government ServicesEnterprise governance Create a “one-stop” service platform in the special economic zone that manages government services. This will help make the area “a world-class business environment,” according to Beijing.
  • The plan does not include details about the blockchain-based, city-wide identity and social credit platform promised in previous statements from the Beijing government.
  • The blockchain work committee is led by the Beijing Municipal Government Service Bureau, the Municipal Science and Technology Commission, and the Municipal Economic Information Bureau.
  • Already, 140 government services use blockchain, the government said in a statement. The applications include data sharing, linking businesses to save time, and epidemic control. These have helped resume production after the Covid-19 lockdown, and led to a 40% reduction in paperwork, according to the statement.

Context: Just two weeks ago, Beijing announced its plan to become a global hub for blockchain technology by 2022. It is one of 11 cities across China to release official strategies based on the technology.

  • Other than government applications, the city wants to support private sector innovation. It will also create a fund dedicated to supporting blockchain startups, a “talent training system,” and set up dedicated blockchain development parks.
  • Beijing’s plan is only one of major government-backed blockchain projects. Southern Hainan province’s special economic zone set up policies that have attracted major companies, and state-owned enterprises are working to build a globally-oriented “internet of blockchains.”
  • Since Xi Jinping’s speech in October praising blockchain, Chinese authorities have reversed its treatment of the technology.
  • Blockchain, and especially cryptocurrencies, were viewed with suspicion and faced heavy regulatory headwinds in the past.
  • Even bitcoin mining is coming into the mainstream, with Sichuan authorities setting up favorable policies.

Eliza Gkritsi

Eliza is TechNode's community listening reporter at the Shanghai office. She acts as a link between the editorial team and TechNode Squared members. She previously worked as a reporter for WikiTribune...