Another emerging technology is hitting news headlines because of COVID-19: blockchain.
People often associate blockchains and distributed ledger technologies with cryptocurrencies or trade finance. Now, it is seeing various uses, ranging from SME financing and information distribution to charities in China.
As China battles the raging pandemic, it is relying on blockchain technologies to overcome barriers in trade and monitor quarantine activities. As a result, this emerging technology, like AI, is seeing a resurgence in other uses while the shine of cryptocurrencies ebbs away.
Alipay is leading the field with its blockchain-based online information platform. It shares epidemic-related materials over mobile apps to help citizens learn good prevention habits. The platform uses Ant Blockchain and is led by the Health Commission and Committee of Economic and Information technology of Zhejiang Province.
Blockchain keeps the information true to its origin. With many COVID-19 fake materials distributing around the globe, the Alipay effort is looking to share approved and validated information that cannot be tampered with.
Ant Financial is also launching a blockchain-powered online bid opening system. It wants to help SMEs take part in contactless bidding from remote locations as these companies take quarantine measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Ant’s consortium blockchain technology ensures that materials and processes of bid openings are tamper-proof, ensuring that the contactless bidding is transparent and trustworthy.
With SMEs facing a liquidity squeeze, Ant Duo-Chain, a blockchain-powered supply chain finance platform developed by Ant Financial, is helping many to apply for loans from banks. Each loan application will use the companies’ receivables from large enterprises. Ant Financial hopes that the platform will help SMEs deal with the financial constraints that many businesses are going through.
One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic is getting the right equipment to medical workers battling at the virus front lines. In Hubei Province, the original epicenter, medical workers are receiving much-needed donations of face masks, medical equipment and cash through a blockchain-based donation tracking platform, Shanzhong.
The initiative is being run by startup Hyperchain and China Xiong’an Group.
The increased efforts of using blockchain to solve real-world problems is changing the way blockchains will be used. IDC sees China’s enterprise blockchain spending hitting USD 2 billion in 2023 in its latest forecast.
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