Chen jing is a correspondent for |. Sheng songcheng is an adviser to the Shanghai municipal people's government and professor of economics and finance at China Europe international business school
As a new technology that is believed to lead a new round of technological and industrial changes around the world, blockchain has become the focus of public opinion. "I started the blockchain course a few years ago, and people didn't care about it at the time, but now for every four students who apply, only one can get in." The experience of Song Xiaodong, a professor in the department of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, is a proof of the blockchain's popularity. In the first half of this year alone, there were 216 financing events in the global blockchain industry, with a total financing amount of 16.537 billion yuan.
In China, blockchain technology is also running at full speed. In 2010, there were only 379 blockchain companies in China, but by the end of October this year, there were 27,513. According to ren zeping, chief economist of Evergrande group, this new technology can "empower" the real economy and financial system: "the advantages of 'honest' and 'transparent' blockchain can be summarized as broad scope, cross-subject, efficiency improvement and cost reduction."
What exactly is a blockchain? Why is it supposed to be the infrastructure of the future Internet... Before answering a series of questions, let's face the most basic question: How has the value of blockchain opened up a new world of trust to the Internet?
The Untamable "Big Book"
The official definition of blockchain is "distributed data storage, point-to-point transmission, consensus mechanism, encryption algorithm and other computer technologies in the Internet era innovative application mode". What kind of technology is behind these obscure terms?
"In simple terms, blockchain technology is a large ledger that is specially encrypted, follows the principle of majority rule, and simultaneously records the same transaction." Tree graph block chain founder Long Fan explains, "the production department is responsible for a record store information, namely" block ", and through the "chain" between information use related party type encryption transmission, anyone could charge to an account, but if you want to record in the books of a particular information modification is almost impossible."
A metaphor may be more concise. For example, when a buyer buys a product from a seller, both buyers and sellers simultaneously shout to the entire web: 'We have a deal.' Each node on the blockchain then records the transaction synchronously, and each small ledger forms a super-large ledger. The same transaction remains consistent, open and transparent in different small books, and cannot be tampered with.
Solving the problem of trust, therefore, becomes the core competitiveness of blockchain technology. Its power lies in creating a decentralized, open and transparent trust system with technology guarantee, making the digital world as real as the physical world. "At the end of the day, blockchain is a credit building paradigm that does not require trust accumulation. Any individual who does not know each other can reach a credit consensus through a certain contractual mechanism and no longer needs an intermediary." Li Guanggan, a researcher with the Development Research Centre of the State Council, told The Economic Daily in an exclusive interview.
According to different degrees of openness to nodes, blockchain is currently divided into three types: public chain, private chain and allied chain. They are the equivalent of a public book open to all, a private book within a company and a consortium of companies, a public book used internally, but trust is always there. Based on trust, new application methods emerge.
Ants, vice President of financial services group Jiang Guofei said quite frankly: "in order to solve the problem of asymmetric information, trading is not credible, formed the content like electricity, social, information such as the Internet business model, to effective information sharing, block chain is build up based on the value of the information on the Internet network directly, it can represent the value of assets for trusted digital connection, and record it flows between the parties, such as distribution of rights and interests of a complete process, greatly simplify the assets in the traditional circulation link coordinated friction."
Xiao Xue, senior vice President of Inspir Group Co., LTD, also thinks: "Under the far-reaching influence of block chain, the Internet is moving from the era of information Internet to the era of value Internet. Blockchain allows people to deliver value on the Internet as easily, quickly and cheaply as they can with information. Cloud computing and artificial intelligence are the new productivity, big data are the means of production, and blockchain is the relationship of production, which runs through the whole technology system."
The true value of finding out
"Bitcoin was born in 2008 when a man claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto published an article titled 'Bitcoin: A Peer-to-peer Electronic Cash System,' and published early implementation code in 2009." Li Guanggan introduced that bitcoin is the first application of blockchain technology.
That's why ordinary people tend to associate blockchain with virtual cryptocurrencies, but then a series of so-called "so-and-so currency" projects took a hit. The reason is that the risks of these virtual cryptocurrencies under the banner of blockchain are not controllable, and there are also a lot of risks of speculation, speculation and fraud.
Since 2013, when the "notice for preventing the risks of currency" to 2017 "for the issue of financing risk prevention tokens announcement" about cooperate with virtual currency trading platform notice rectifications to the 2018 "about prevention in the name of the" virtual currency "" block chain" illegal fund-raising risk warning ", in order to protect the interests of investors, has launched a series of regulatory measures, will be "so-and-so currency" type of ICO (money) for the first time as illegal fund-raising and comprehensive.
"Blockchain technology is not equal to hype cryptocurrency," Jiang said. Cryptocurrencies that are not anchored in real value should not be the direction of the blockchain industry. All sorts of scams in the name of blockchain should be watched out for, making the technology itself, which is supposed to produce more value, a victim. Blockchain is not a tool to get rich overnight, but the infrastructure of the digital economy of the future."
Si Xiao, President of Tencent Research Institute, also thinks: "Blockchain has experienced a stage from being pursued to the bubble to the bottom, but it is also a process of eliminating the false and retaining the true in the great wave. Parties in the blockchain industry still need to rethink the value of blockchain in the process of trying to land, rather than blindly creating 'fake demand'."
The bubble dissipates, the block chain's real value, still got the "top-level design" affirmation. In October 2016, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published the White Paper on The Technology and Application development of Blockchain in China, putting forward for the first time the roadmap for the standardization of blockchain in China. In December of the same year, "blockchain" was for the first time written into the "Notice of the State Council on the Issuance of the 13th Five-Year Plan for National Informatization" as a strategic frontier technology. Since then, national and local governments have issued a number of programmatic documents to encourage research on blockchain, carry out its pilot application, and support its innovative integration and cutting-edge layout. In the first half of this year alone, local governments issued 106 policies to support blockchain.
Domestic blockchain related research, standardization and industrialization development has been actively promoted. "Industry synergy has created a lot of opportunities for blockchain, especially where data and value need to flow, where efficiencies are low and processes are particularly long." "Said Jiang.
A series of blockchain applications to support the real economy and address people's livelihood pain points are being widely tested. In the financial sector, blockchain helps to authenticate and protect cross-border remittances, transaction settlement assets; In the logistics industry, digitization of goods significantly improves the visibility and predictability of logistics networks; Blockchain electronic notes, blockchain electronic invoices, blockchain electronic prescriptions... Blockchain is accelerating the innovative integration with all walks of life, giving new momentum to the new round of development of various industries.
New prospects of both opportunities and challenges
The future of blockchain is here. Are we ready?
From the perspective of industry consensus, the development of blockchain technology is still in the starting stage. "Although capital and talent are pouring in quickly, the industry is only going to grow faster in three to five years as the application scenario is launched more quickly," says Ren. There are still challenges in addressing the mapping of real assets down the chain, interoperability of information and assets across the chain, and scalability of the blockchain."
"In addition to network performance, issues such as the security and privacy of blockchain data, computing costs and cross-chain connectivity need to be addressed," Xiao said.
In terms of the capital market, globally speaking, more than 95% of blockchain financing events are in the seed round, angel round and A round, and only 3% of blockchain financing events are in the B round and later, which indicates that the industry is still in the early stage. In China, as of the first half of this year, the financing rounds of the initial blockchain projects still accounted for as high as 88.06%. At the same time, domestic capital markets are showing signs of rationality. Since 2015, the proportion of strategic investment in blockchain in China has gradually increased, from less than 10% to 24.38% in 2018.
However, from the perspective of talent reserve, the construction of blockchain talent team still needs to be further strengthened. Huang Zhen, President of the China Internet Finance Innovation Research Institute, said the talent training system in this field is still in its early stage, and the overall talent scale and quality cannot meet the needs of the fast-paced development of the industry. "However, with the continuous implementation of the blockchain policy, the increasingly mature development of the industry and the continuous increase of educational resources, China's blockchain talent training system will become more and more perfect, and gradually alleviate the imbalance between supply and demand."
Jiang Guofei believes, "China's block chain industry will advance into the commercial era. This first benefits from the progress of technical capabilities, system performance and further maturity of data protection; Secondly, open technology leads to group accelerated innovation. Third, cooperation with industry benchmarks stimulates the snowball effect.
Block chain technology has great development potential and will be widely used in the future. However, for blockchain technology, the first important thing is to be put into practice and serve the real economy.
Blockchain is characterized by decentralization and data cannot be tampered with, which contributes to the establishment of point-to-point trust and reduces transaction costs in the process of information transmission. For example, blockchain can be used to verify the authenticity of artworks. For example, in the field of public services, digital rights, intellectual property rights and various certificates can be used to establish a new management mechanism and improve fairness, justice and transparency in the field of public services.
Of course, we also need to consider the cost of the development and application of blockchain technology. In other words, can the benefits obtained by using blockchain technology exceed the development and application costs? This account, must calculate well.
It should be noted that the application of blockchain is not suitable for all fields.
Bitcoin under the banner of blockchain, for example, was widely touted as a huge challenge to the existing currency system. However, with the passage of time, the non-monetary nature of virtual currency is gradually recognized. Libra, which has received a lot of attention recently, has a scenario unlike any other cryptocurrency or stability coin, but its distribution mechanism also makes it difficult for Libra to exist as a real currency.
From the perspective of monetary development history, money has two revolutionary changes, namely physical money and modern credit money. The feature of physical currency is that it has intrinsic value and measures the value of goods by its own value, acting as the medium of Commodity Exchange. The modern credit monetary system is closely connected with the state and modern economic and social organization. The standard currency issued by the state has the support of the state credit, behind which is the wealth of the whole society and traded goods. The state issues the standard currency according to the needs of the whole society in the production and trading of commodities, guarantees the circulation of the standard currency by law, and maintains the stability of the value of the standard currency through the central adjustment mechanism, thus maintaining the normal operation of the modern credit monetary system. It is not difficult to see that the currency field needs to be centralized the most, and the blockchain is precisely decentralized.
Monetary policy is one of the major economic policies of almost all countries in the world. The most basic conditions for the use of monetary policy are that the central bank monopolizes the right to issue currency and regulates interest rates, exchange rates, prices, employment and economic growth, etc. Even with the development of technology and the development of a single paper currency into electronic money and other forms, it is still behind the national credit endorsement, which is the most fundamental basis point. No sovereign country will abandon monetary policy in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the creation and issuance of digital currency by private individuals is not a currency in the real sense and does not have the support of national credit. Moreover, it will have a serious negative impact on monetary sovereignty, financial stability, monetary policy and financial supervision.
In addition, for the financial system, efficiency and security are also very important, and the blockchain does not have much advantage over the existing financial system. In fact, the current payment system is already very safe and convenient, and can support relatively large transactions. Some studies have pointed out that the efficiency of the block chain in transactions is not as good as the current payment system. If for the purpose of anti-money laundering, anti-tax evasion, electronic transactions can also achieve this purpose.