When we first heard Vitalik Buterin was learning Chinese, it was a clue to his ambitions in China. Less than two years later, the platform he co-founded is now a growing force in the Middle Kingdom. Since he joined the ChinaLedger Alliance (May 2016) and announced the expansion of BlockApps, an Ethereum building-blocks platform, in China (September 2016), there has been a movement in cities and among companies in big industries all throughout China. This is in some part due to the efforts of Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, which has made it their mission in China to bring Ethereum to the mainstream, and also in part to the savvy and persistent efforts of Buterin himself.
At a recent Ethereum meetup in Hong Kong, Buterin said that “Wanxiang Blockchain Labs are making good inroads into China.” Headquartered in Hangzhou, Wanxiang has led the Ethereum charge in China for more than a year. Having partnered with Ethereum early on for the Global Blockchain Summit following Devcon2 in Shanghai in July of 2016, Wanxiang is now China’s top funder of promising blockchain projects.
With its BlockGrantX sponsorship program, it has allocated funds to Ethereum startups including iEx.ec (for fully distributed cloud computing), Proof-of-Identity (for KYC, wallets, multisig, voting, authentication and reputation systems), Golem (P2P computation), Casper (a proof-of-stake consensus protocol), the Raiden Network (an Ethereum off-chain state network) and Micro Oracles (blockchain identity verification). And this month, Wanxiang launched its WanCloud platform for Chinese developers, giving them access to tools for building applications on open-source blockchains.
Since the recent Global Blockchain Financial Summit in Hangzhou, China’s rapid technological developments on the Ethereum platform has been garnering attention. One blog post in particular, from ConsenSys’s Head of Global Business Development Andrew Keys, gave some insight into the rapid rate of Chinese adoption. Highlights of the post, titled “Ethereum Growing Exponentially in China,” include:
- The creation of an Ethereum Laboratory at Peking University, to work on applications for improving supply chain management and energy markets
- The Royal Chinese Mint experimenting with a digital RMB on the Ethereum blockchain
- Chinese companies such as Baidu, Ctrip, JD.com and Meituan utilizing Ethereum technology for aggregated payments services
- Establishment of the Jiangsu Huaxin BIockchain Research Institute (JBI) in Nanjing, which Keys writes “will be a powerhouse in the Ethereum ecosystem and will become a beachhead for corporations outside of China.”
- Experimenting with Ethereum technology by Ant Financial, Alibaba’s $60 billion financial arm, to improve their global payment platforms
In Hong Kong, there has also been a surge of new interest in Ethereum. Jehan Chu is the founder of the Ethereum meetup there and a partner at Jen Advisors, a Hong Kong–based early-stage blockchain VC firm. Though the technology is still very young, Chu has seen a huge uptick in activity.
“Ethereum in Southern China has been on a rampage of growth,” Chu told Bitcoin Magazine, “with the local HK meetup growing by 50 percent to nearly 800 members in the last six months, and ether trade skyrocketing. Banks, corporates and even casual investors have all heard about Ethereum’s white-hot growth and mounting challenge to Bitcoin dominance. More importantly, Ethereum startups worldwide from Status.im and Ox to Golem and MakerDao have made HK’s environment of high-level industry professionals a can’t-miss stop on their Asia business development and capital raising tours.”
Recently the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), connecting Fortune 500 enterprises, startups, academics and technology vendors with Ethereum, announced its expansion into China with a new office in Hangzhou.
At the Global Blockchain Financial Summit in Hangzhou, EEA China said that its main objectives are to “explore and develop new standards and technologies using blockchains, so that Chinese enterprises can more easily meet domestic market needs.” Founding members of the EEA include JP Morgan, Banco Santander, CME Group, Microsoft, Intel, Accenture and blockchain startup ConsenSys.
Over the past week, the price of ether has surged from $85 on May 17 to a high of around $211 on Coinbase on May 25. While many credit this rise to the announcements of the EEA, it is also notable that ETH trading was added to some of China’s digital asset exchanges. On May 14 CHBTC.com added an ETH/CNY trading pair, and on May 16 Yuanbao.com added ETH trading to its platform. It has also been confirmed that China’s top Bitcoin exchange OKCoin will soon add ETH trading.