Imitating the infamous trend of adding “internet” to a company’s name during the dot-com bubble of 1999, China is experiencing a surge in companies registering their businesses with “blockchain” in their names.
According to the South China Morning Post, from January to July 2018 the number of companies undertaking such a step has risen six times compared to all of 2017.
Over 4,000 companies in China are officially blockchain businesses on paper, based on data collated by government tracking site Qixin. It is unknown how many of these firms utilize the distributed ledger technology in their industry or offer cryptocurrencies as an extension of their practices.
The Chinese word for blockchain, Qukualian, was observed in just 555 companies in 2017, and significantly lower in 2016. In contrast, only 817 in the U.S. and 335 companies in the U.K. contain “blockchain” in their registered name, as per data collated by OpenCorporates.
The explosive naming trend is reminiscent of the internet bubble two decades ago, when companies worldwide added “dot net,” “dot com,” or “internet” to their names, primarily to attract investors to their stocks.
In 2015, when Artificial Intelligence technology was swiftly developing, Chinese companies were quick to adopt the “AI” tag for their business names, with 400 such companies added at the time. China accounted for 25% of the world’s AI businesses according to names registered that year, but the number dropped down to 10% in 2016.
Meanwhile, over 16,600 companies in China identify themselves as using blockchain technology in a part of their business. Over 3,800 of such firms report a registered capital upwards of 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million), according to a separate search on Qixin.
The collated data indicates tremendous interest in the burgeoning technology from Chinese entrepreneurs. However, the government maintains its strict stance on cryptocurrencies, mining, and exchanges, with no potential respite.
Despite the pessimism, China has shown great support to develop the blockchain sector. The city authorities of Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Shanghai have each shown significant interest in developing local laws for blockchain businesses.
Hangzhou even unveiled a $1.6 billion blockchain park in April 2018, which local authorities claimed to be the world’s most significant financial effort in blockchain-based endeavors amongst all governances
In 2016, China announced the technology as part of the 13th Five-Year-Plan, a roadmap for the country’s development for 2016-2020.
Interestingly, of all startups that received funding in 2017, 41% were blockchain businesses or related to the technology.
Governments Remain Wary of Cryptocurrencies
While use cases for blockchain are primarily limited to cryptocurrencies, authorities, and corporations around the world are embracing the technology for use in record checking, post-trade settlements, and administration. South Korea, Japan, China, and Singapore have all shown progress in this regard.
Fan Wenzhong, head of China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, stated in July 2018:
“Blockchain is a useful innovation, but that doesn’t mean cryptocurrencies, which blockchain has given rise to, are necessarily useful.”