Originally Alipay, Ant Financial controls China’s biggest online payment network and has a networth of over $150 billion. Following the hugely successful series C funding round, the new investment has been reportedly earmarked to fund the company’s ongoing blockchain, AI and IoT development.
This is by no means the first time we’ve heard of Ant Financial’s interest in blockchain technology. Vice President and Head of Ant Technologies Lab, George Jiang, told media reporters at the Alibaba Computing Conference in hangzhou last October, that
“Ant Financial is building a smart contract platform which can be applied to industries such as the industrial, finance and leasing markets”
This includes the company’s plans to combine smart contracts with biometric facial recognition software, to allow users to rent properties by scanning their faces on arrival and pay by simply locking the door. This would greatly reduce inefficiencies in the current system, that requires landlords and ladies to chase their tenants for payment each month.
In a more recent report, Ant technologies also holds the record for the most blockchain patents filed by any other company, globally; with a total of 49 different blockchain patents, more than any US competitor in this field. These patents include blockchain applications for mutual insurance, quality commodities and public welfare. In some of these cases, Ant Financial has already implemented these applications; utilising a blockchain system to track and record imported products, along with data including the product’s origin and inspection information, which is accessible to consumers when they scan the item.
Jiang also expressed that while,
“Ant Financial has applied for more blockchain patents than other companies” he made sure to stress that the company does not, “ha[ve] anything to do with ICO”
“the technical appeal of the blockchain is to build trust, while ICO destroys trust”
This comes after a recent dictation from CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, who accepts that “blockchain is real” but still remains bias against ICOs and digital assets generally.