Building the Ethereum Empire with China
China has always been a progressive country with roots deeply planted in innovation.
Going back to the Han Dynasty (about 206 BC), the compass was first invented as a device for divination and the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) brought forth gunpowder. These inventions would not be seen in Europe until sometime in the 1700’s. Ancient China certainly proved to be quite innovative for its time, and now it’s making waves within the innovative technology of Ethereum.
Ethereum over Bitcoin Blockchain
When Bitcoin emerged onto the scene years prior to Ethereum’s development, its underlying blockchain technology received more interest than the bitcoin currency itself. Yet, since its inception, Ethereum has been the flourishing blockchain within the internet and Fintech industries. It’s showing that it’s the predominant blockchain technology by alluring investors and innovators with its promise and possibilities. By proving to be more scalable than Bitcoin, Ethereum has been the choice blockchain technology for decentralization.
Ethereum Meets China
Companies dedicated to Ethereum’s emerging technology have recently decided to set up shop in China, aiming to grow their companies. Vitalik Buterin, the brainchild of Ethereum, stated that back in 2013, he developed a working relationship with Bo Shen, Co-Founder of Bitshares. This resulted in Buterin working in China with Bo Shen on utilizing the blockchain technology beyond just a currency. After Ethereum was announced mid-2014, it wasn’t until a trip out to China during May and June of 2015 that Buterin began to see the potential of the Chinese Ethereum community.
"I was interested in seeing what the potential for Ethereum there was. There actually was a substantial amount of interest and even - which really positively surprised me - from people who didn't come to it through Bitcoin."
As an acknowledgment of China’s growth within the Ethereum industry, the second largest Ethereum annual event, Devcon2, was hosted in Shanghai, China. George Hallam of the Ethereum Foundation said to CoinTelegraph,
“We felt that DEVCON1 gave a brilliant boost to the already burgeoning Ethereum community in the UK. China, and the rest of Asia for that matter, also has a very fast growing, effervescent Ethereum community. We see Devcon2 as an excellent opportunity to bring this community into the limelight, build new relationships there and kickstart some serious growth within the ecosystem.”
Devcon2 in Shanghai
Devcon2 in Shanghai, during the middle of September 2016, was considered the most influential and pivotal event within the Ethereum ecosystem. There was an unprecedented amount of attendees, startups, developers, and companies that wanted to attend or sponsor the event. Expanding across six days, International Blockchain Week hosted the world’s largest Ethereum event with the first three days dedicated to Devcon2. The following day, Demo Day, was dedicated to presentations of Ethereum companies and startups, and the following two days, hosted the Global Blockchain Summit.
Those first few days of Devcon2 would see panels from top developers and professionals in the industry, encapsulating the advances, improvements, and roadmap of Ethereum. Shanghai was abuzz with the top pioneers and minds in the industry, and China was quickly gaining ground as becoming home to Ethereum innovation.
Notable Chinese Ethereum Companies
Aside from hosting Devcon2, China houses a few thriving Ethereum and blockchain-focused companies. The most notable of these companies is the Wanxiang Group Corporation, which is the largest Chinese multinational automotive components manufacturing company headquartered in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. This mega-company, co-founded by Bo Shen, formed Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, a company dedicated to the cutting-edge research of blockchain technology. Wanxiang Blockchain Labs announced a $50m commitment to blockchain development and in conjunction with the Ethereum Foundation, hosted the International Blockchain Week in Shanghai. Wanxiang’s Blockchain Labs was created as a non-profit, with $1m per year funding with a focus on two primary functions of research and development, and education.
Alibaba, a major Chinese e-commerce company which is number 18 on BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2016, has been experimenting with Ethereum technology and seeking how its technology can aid their company. In addition to creating alliances with Ethereum startups, since they’re an e-commerce platform, they sell wholesale Ethereum mining tools.
Ethereum blockchain programming platform, BlockApps, opened services to China and stated in the Wall Street Journal, “China will become the largest developer market in the world.” BlockApps expanded their global access of Blockchain-as-a-Service to China by working with the market leading cloud providers, Alibaba (China-based), Microsoft Azure China (operated by 21Vianet), Tencent (a Chinese investment holding company), and WanCloud (Wanxiang’s newly formed cloud company). According to BlockApps CEO, Victor Wong, “demand for BlockApps from enterprises around the world has grown exceptionally fast from the US to Europe, South America, the Middle East and now by working with the leading Chinese cloud providers, BlockApps will help them and their enterprise clients facilitate efficient blockchain deployments.” China-based venture capital firm, Fenbushi Capital, which exclusively invests in blockchain-enabled companies, has also backed BlockApps.
However, Wanxiang, Alibaba, and BlockApps aren’t the only Ethereum players in China. Just a mere couple of months before Devcon2, major Chinese exchange, ChBTC, decided to accept Ether which sparked, even more, growth. Numerous Ethereum meetups are forming all over China in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing. The Hyperledger Project, which has projects built off Ethereum and is slated as a “collaborative effort created to advance blockchain technology,” expanded and set up a location within China. Gemini, the Winklevoss twins’ exchange recently just announced that they’ve opened up trading in Hong Kong.
Chinese Ethereum Entrepreneurs
Ethereum has also enchanted innovative individuals already residing in China. These individuals have formed groups that are full of developers with the goal of creating a hub of communication, collaboration, and synergy. One of these groups, ETHFans, is the largest group of Chinese-speaking Ethereum enthusiasts. Shaoping Zhang, ETHFans’ community organizer is the initiator of ETHFans’ mining pool project and has stated,
“Definitely, lots and lots [of] possibilities can be seen in the Fintech area. Especially with the increasing efforts to explore secure and cost-effective ways to deepen asset financialization in China, the properties of blockchain technology in general and Ethereum in particular, make them well positioned to succeed in this area.
We‘d like to see that Ethereum act [as] an agent for bringing a new form of Finance - a crypto-finance implemented through Ethereum Blockchain-based smart contract combined with core crypto-currency.”
ETHFans also created ConsenLabs, a company that’s coming up with "digital assets" solutions. Their first project, imToken is a blockchain-based smart digital wallet, designed with the average user in mind to reduce the complication of obtaining digital assets.
With so many Chinese-based developers and enthusiasts working with the Ethereum technology, mining pools have been formed, new wallets and exchanges are being created, and the Ethereum technology is permeating the Chinese financial sector. A recent survey by Greenwich Associates “estimates that financial and technology markets investments in blockchain technology will reach $1 billion in 2016. The survey showed that venture capital backed investment in blockchain and bitcoin companies jumped from $3 million in 2011 to $474 million in 2015.”
Ethereum is dominating the blockchain industry and China is epitomizing its growth. With so many Ethereum powerhouses within its borders, China is certainly helping to build the foundation of a global Ethereum empire.