Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is launching a blockchain BaaS (Backend-as-a-Service) platform.
The announcement was reportedly made by Ant Financial vice president Jiang Guoefei at the Ant Technology Exploration Conference (ATEC) in Hangzhou yesterday. The new BaaS platform is being launched in tandem with an enterprise-focused “ant blockchain partner program” that will reportedly enable small- and medium-scale businesses to implement and innovate new blockchain solutions.
The announcement aligns with what Gueofei characterized as a move to “open up” Ant’s in-house technologies to the wider commercial sector:
"In the past two years, Ant Financial has been working on two aspects about blockchain. One is to improve the technology, and the other is to open it up and accelerate the commercialization of blockchain applications."
As part of its impetus to commercialize the technology, Ant Financial trialed its very first blockchain remittances earlier this summer, using its newly-developed blockchain-based electronic wallet cross border remittance service. The trial demonstrated a transfer of funds between Ant Financial’s AliPayHK — the Hong Kong version of Ant’s popular mobile payment app Alipay — and Filipino payment app GCash.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma has signalled increasing involvement of AliPay in blockchain for several years, with Ant Financial most recently securing $14 billion in funding for the technology’s development this June.
Fresh data published late August revealed that Alibaba had sealed first place globally on a new list that ranked entities by the number of blockchain-related patents filed to date; the e-commerce conglomerate has filed a staggering 90 such patents, outflanking even IBM.
Nonetheless, Ma delivered a keynote lecture earlier this month in which he noted that blockchain is one of a host of advanced technologies that still need to prove they can help evolve society in a “greener and more inclusive” direction.