China’s state-backed blockchain company is planning its first major international expansion, its CEO told CNBC, as Beijing continues to make the technology a key priority.
Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN) bills itself as a “one-stop shop” to deploy blockchain applications in the cloud, a process that could otherwise be costly and time consuming. It aims to link different blockchains together to help businesses deploy the technology.
Hong Kong-headquartered start-up Red Date Technology is one of the founding members of BSN. The company’s CEO Yifan He told CNBC that BSN is planning to launch a project called BSN Spartan Network overseas in August.
Blockchain came to prominence with the cryptocurrency bitcoin but its definition has since expanded. It refers to a system of shared ledgers of activity, which could be public and available for all to see, or private, where only certain participants can use and modify it. Bitcoin is an example of a public blockchain.
BSN’s blockchain networks, however, do not operate with any cryptocurrencies because China has cracked down on digital coins.
Proponents of blockchain technology say that it can reduce the cost and increase the speed of some business processes. Chinese President Xi Jinping has personally endorsed the technology, elevating it to a national priority.
The international plan will be a major push for BSN.
The Spartan Network will eventually be made up of half a dozen public blockchains that do not operate with cryptocurrencies. One of those will be a non-crypto version of the Ethereum blockchain when the project launches in August.
Blockchain transactions usually cost money. But He said that the fee will be paid in U.S. dollars rather than Ethereum’s related cryptocurrency called ether.
“The purpose of this is to drop the cost to use public chains to very minimal so that more traditional IT [information technology] systems and business systems can use public chains as part of their systems,” He said.
“That is why we are working with other major public chain protocols to convince them the mainstream is non-crypto public chains.”
The Red Date Technology CEO admitted that not having cryptocurrencies as part of the company’s product offering is a challenge. He said BSN Spartan Network will be “difficult to push in the first or second year because most people in the blockchain industry only understand crypto.”
‘Huge challenge’ due to China links
BSN will likely face scrutiny abroad due to its links to the Chinese government. The company is backed by the State Information Center (SIC) which sits under China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). China Mobile, a state-owned telecommunications company, is also behind the project.
He said that BSN’s Chinese background is a “huge challenge” as it expands internationally.
“That is why when we a launch in August we will open source immediately and we are working with a lot of western companies,” He said.
“People will say BSN is from China, it is dangerous. Let me emphasize, BSN Spartan will be open source … we will not access anything from our end.”
He also said users will be able to inspect the code behind the project to ensure there are no backdoor access for the Chinese government.