The price of Ether, the cryptocurrency native of the Ethereum network, soared 76% in the past month and 1,000% since the beginning of the year. The continued rally is sustained by news of several developments in China unveiled earlier this week.
According to a blog post by Andrew Keys, the head of global business development of Consensus Systems (ConsenSys), the Royal Chinese Mint is planning to use blockchain technology to digitalize the yuan. More precisely, it is experimenting with the ERC 20 token standard and Ethereum smart contracts.
The initiative is similar to what the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been working on with the help of the R3 banking consortium and a group of member banks. Last year, the central bank announced a distributed ledger trial. The idea was to develop “a digital representation of the Singapore dollar for interbank settlement” and find “new methods to conduct cross border payments using central bank digital currency.” The trial was completed in March this year. Further tests are planned.
Meanwhile, Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate company focused on financial services, is experimenting with Ethereum to improve its global payment platforms. Ant Financial operates several brands covering payments, wealth management, independent credit scoring and reporting, private bank and cloud computing services. These include the Alipay payments platform, credit rating system Zhima Credit, and digital bank MYbank.
In its latest fundraising in April 2016, Ant Financial was valued at US$60 billion. The firm is reportedly considering a Hong Kong IPO later this year.
Other Ethereum developments in China include plans by Peking University to create an Ethereum Laboratory. The lab would focus on protocol improvements and application use cases for the Chinese market, specifically in supply chain and energy markets.
Dianrong, a leading peer-to-peer lender in China, is said it be exploring “next-generation solutions” based on Ethereum. Dianrong, which started blockchain research in 2015, has open-sourced its permissioned Ethereum iteration DChain.
iPayNow, a company that provides aggregated payment services to the likes of JD.com, MI and Baidu, is using Quorum, a version of Ethereum incorporating transactional privacy open-sourced by JP Morgan. iPayNow sees blockchain technology as the key driver of the next generation of mobile payments.
Interest in Ethereum has grown significantly in the past year with global enterprises joining forces in February to launch a consortium dedicated to the technology. Called the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), the coalition consists of firms representing the oil and gas industry, the financial sector and the IT industry. It aims to develop enterprise grade Ethereum applications.
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts, code functions that are stored in the blockchain and which trigger actions. Its cryptocurrency ether is the second largest in the world in terms of market capitalization with more than US$8 billion.