ICBC joins the chorus of Chinese firms backing blockchain technology
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has said it will raise its efforts to implement innovative financial technology (fintech) including blockchain as part of its official strategy.
Chairmain Yi Huiman was reported by local news agency BiaNews will focus on innovations in cloud computing, blockchain, big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
Annual results announcement
ICBC announced on Tuesday in its annual results for the full-year 2017 that it had launched its “intelligent banking” strategy called e-ICBC 3.0 which included the establishment of an Internet Finance Department and seven innovation labs.
It said that its ICBC Mobile platform had reached 280 million users, representing annual growth of 11.5% while the value of transactions over its e-commerce platform ICBC Mail swelled to Rmb1.03tn ($150bn).
The bank added that it will work on finding further use cases for blockchain in “smart banking” – helping to improve the customer experience, while ensuring personal data that might be shared with third parties remains secure.
The state-owned bank is not alone in developing blockchain solutions. Despite China’s antipathy towards the cryptocurrency trade that blockchain underpins, state authorities have been keen to encourage research and development in the distributed ledger technology.
In July, Agricultural Bank of China issued its first loan using blockchain to document and monitor the agricultural projects on the land used as collateral for the loan.
And it’s not just the financial sector that’s getting involved. Similar to the US blockchain experience, large technology companies and retailers are looking at e-commerce applications of the technology.
Alibaba, China’s e-commerce and internet giant, tops the list of global companies in terms of blockchain patent filings – with more than 90 applications.
Even the People’s Bank of China – the central bank and one of the most outspoken cryptocurrency critics – has filed more than 40 blockchain patents.