Measured by patent applications in the sector, China is handily outpacing other countries including the United States in blockchain technology.
On Nov. 20, Japan-based financial newspaper Nikkei reported that Chinese companies submitted around 7,600 applications between 2009 and 2018 — about three times as many as U.S.-based companies.
A total of 12,000 blockchain applications
According to Tokyo-based research firm Astamuse, the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Germany together submitted around 12,000 blockchain-related patent applications through 2018, with China accounting for over 60% of the five-country total.
South Korea submitted close to 1,150 applications within the same time frame, while Japan submitted fewer than 380 applications.
With 512 applications, Chinese retail giant Alibaba Group Holding took the lead amongst the ranking of corporate applicants compiled by Japan's NGB based on data from Innography. United Kingdom-based nChain followed Alibaba closely, with 468, while technology giant IBM filed 248 applications.
In November, the Chinese news program Focus Report pointed out that although there are around 32,000 companies in China that claim to use blockchain technology, reportedly the real number is not even 10% of that. According to the episode, China's blockchain industry is at the forefront of the world, with the total number of blockchain enterprises second only to the United States.
China and blockchain adoption
In October, China’s President Xi Jinping called for the country to accelerate its adoption of blockchain technologies as central to innovation. Xi stressed that the implementation of integrated blockchain technologies is key in promoting technological innovation and transforming industries.
Edith Cheung, partner at blockchain-focused venture capital fund Proof of Capital, said that she believes that China will “definitely” deploy its new digital currency within the next six months to a year. Cheung looked to foreign powers, who she believes should already be prepared to respond, as China hopes to become the first country worldwide to issue a digital incarnation of its national currency. She added:
“I really think the United States needs to hurry up; to have a strong thinking and policy, at least a direction for virtual USD.”