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Alibaba’s AliPayHK, Showcases Ripple Like Remittance Service

Alibaba’s affiliate in Hong Kong, Ant Financial, launched a blockchain powered remittance service on its AliPayHK mobile platform on Monday, June 25th. At the event, Mary Grace, a Filipino worker in Hong Kong, used the service to send money back home in a matter of three seconds. The usual process of sending money from Hong Kong to the Philippines could take up to 10 days, but this time frame has been shortened by the new platform that is as a result of AliPayHK partnering with GCash.

The launch comes at an opportune time for the city of Hong Kong has long had a reputation for lagging behind in terms of adopting fintech solutions when compared to mainland China and Singapore. AliPayHK’s partner in this new service, GCash, is a Philippines based micro-payment service operated by Globe Telecom in the same country.

At the event was Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, who used the event to popularize his idea that blockchain technology should not be used to enrich a few, but rather to help provide financial services to the over 1.7 Billion people globally that are without access to bank accounts.

Jack Ma was quoted as saying:

Blockchain should not be a tech to get rich over night…There are still 1.7 billion people in the world who have no bank accounts, but most of them have mobile phones. The impact of blockchain on the future of humans may be far beyond our imagination.

Jennifer Tan, the CEO of AlipayHK would also comment the following during the event:

We are very excited to introduce this new remittance solution to our users in Hong Kong, and in particular to the Filipino community in the city. What used to be a long process of physically going to a remittance booth, queuing in line for hours and filling out forms, is now easily and securely done over the mobile phone in just a few seconds.

This move by Ant Financial through AlipayHK and GCash, makes the mobile remittance industry more exciting as the Santander bank had just recently also showcased its one OnePayFX app that uses Ripple’s xCurrent.

[Photo, Jack Ma and Mary Grace. Source, asia.nikkei.com]

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Alibaba’s Cryptic Relationship With Bitcoin and Blockchain

Since Bitcoin’s uses started to be thrashed out in forums and around dinner tables alike, there was always the belief that it would be a perfect thing for the likes of Amazon to accept. Digital cash for a digital store.

Amazon may well be getting into the blockchain game, albeit slowly, and not with Bitcoin. But what about Alibaba? Alibaba is in the East, what Amazon is in the West, and is a massive eCommerce business with huge sway and power in the tech market.

So, if Amazon’s Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency journey is pretty much mapped out and accounted for, what is the deal with Alibaba, and where do they stand on this revolutionary technology, this new form of money, and this popular digital cash?

Extended reach

Alibaba is much more than just an eCommerce site for the East. It is a holding company with 13 subsidiaries — from the main eCommerce site to a football team in Guangzhou — and over 66,000 employees.

It is obviously also a very tech-forward company, being a successful eCommerce business first, and being co-founded by Jack Ma — one of China’s richest men with a net worth of $42.7 billion — it is also a company with a lot of clout.

So, with the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and other heavy-hitting, Western technology companies all scrambling to make sense of blockchain and cryptocurrencies with their own projects, it is interesting to look into Alibaba’s vault and see what they have been doing with the technology.

It won’t be easy to find Alibaba’s hands directly linked to Bitcoin like, for instance, in the way that many maybe would hope to see; the eCommerce store suddenly started accepting Bitcoin, but — delving deeper into the subsidiaries — there is evidence of Alibaba experimenting with blockchain itself.

Blockchain remittances

Recently, it was reported that Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial has trialled its first blockchain remittances, sending a transaction in three seconds.

This trial saw the company completed a funds transfer between its AliPayHK app in Hong Kong and Filipino payment app GCash — its joint project with local telecoms company Globe Telecom.

Jack Ma was on hand to explain the importance of this trial and why he and Ant Financial — and thus Alibaba Holdings — thought cross-border remittance is vital, and how blockchain is a big game changer.

“Using blockchain to achieve cross-border remittances is one of my most concerned projects in the past six months. Starting from Hong Kong, this service [AlipayHK] will be brought to the rest of the world in the future.”

Clearly, Ma sees the value of blockchain technology, especially in finance. In fact, he goes on to give an even bigger insight into how blockchain and finance can help the world.

“Blockchain should not be a tech to get rich overnight. There are still 1.7 billion people in the world who have no bank accounts, but most of them have mobile phones. The impact of blockchain on the future of humans may be far beyond our imagination.”

Blockchain in healthcare

There is more evidence of Ma, and Alibaba getting its hands near — but never directly on — blockchain and cryptocurrency technology when  ZhongAn Tech announced its plans to use blockchain technology to cut risk and costs in healthcare insurance

ZhongAn, the technology incubator for ZhongAn Online Property & Casualty Insurance, was founded in 2013 by the chairman of Alibaba Group, Ma. This use of blockchain in such a space also tied in with Ma’s general thoughts on blockchain being effective for addressing privacy and security issues across all industry sectors.

Pursuing more blockchain

Furthermore, Alipay’s operator Ant Financial, a long-term subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding, has entered into “definitive agreements” with investors to secure $14 billion in a ‘Series C’ equity financing round. The money will be spent to pursue blockchain and technological innovation.

Ant Financial’s CEO Eric Jing has said that he “definitely” expected to see blockchain becoming “deeply” implemented into Alipay in future, eventually acting as a base protocol for the popular mobile payment application.

This financial arm of Alibaba also recruited blockchain experts to actively look into the potential of blockchain technology through 2017 and surely has been building up a big base of knowledge and information on the technology.

It is more evidence of the companies in and around the conglomerate of Alibaba seeing huge worth in blockchain and financial services along with the technology. But it did not start here.

All the way back in August 2016, Alibaba introduction of tamper-proof blockchain technology to improve accountability in the Chinese charity industry. This was Ma’s first foray into blockchain technology, and — as the philanthropist has probably learnt along the way — there is a lot still that can, and should, be done with it.

Bubbly Bitcoin

All this being said and done, Ma — as the charismatic face and head of the conglomerate — has never really been a big fan of Bitcoin, or really any of the cryptocurrencies attached to the blockchain technology he clearly values.

Speaking in May, at the second World Intelligence Conference in Tianjin, Ma said that blockchain technology is not a bubble, but Bitcoin is.

Ma has always warned against those who view cryptocurrency — and blockchain — as a “huge gold mine,” even at the Bitcoin frenzy height of December 2017, Ma was perplexed at what he was seeing around the cryptocurrency space.

“I don’t know about Bitcoin at all. I’m particularly puzzled. Even if it can really work, the rules of global trade and the financial system will be completely changed. I don’t think we are ready. So I’m still paying attention to Alipay, to the U.S. dollar, and the euro. We have a team that studies blockchain, but Bitcoin is not something that I want to pursue. We don’t care about Bitcoin.”

Ma reiterated these points on June 25, in Hong Kong, when he said:

“It is not right to become rich overnight by betting on blockchain. Technology itself isn’t the bubble, but Bitcoin likely is.”

It is a telling passage from Ma and one that, in hindsight, speaks a lot of sense about the Bitcoin mania that was seen when prices topped $20,000. He admits to having a huge respect and interest in blockchain, and that his company is working to understand it better. But Bitcoin — and, by extension, any of the cryptocurrencies — are not of interest to Ma and Alibaba.

Ma held true to these words and his company’s dealings with this ecosystem are mirrored in what he says. There were rumours in January that the conglomerate had launched its own cryptocurrency mining platform but that was quashed by Alibaba.

Additionally, the online shopping website Taobao, a subsidiary of Alibaba, banned stores on the platform from providing services related to ICOs.

Ma seems to be doing all he can to separate Bitcoin from blockchain in a way that many see as impossible — or, at least, unfeasible.

Chinese mentality

It would seem that the narrative of ‘blockchain over Bitcoin’ is becoming louder, especially in China, where the country has banned all it can to do with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, yet still managed to make strides in blockchain technology.

Indeed, China is one of the first countries in the world to mention the technology in a state-level policy: in 2016, blockchain was added into the 13th Five-Year Plan, a road map for national development from 2016 to 2020.

China continues to communicate its appreciation of blockchain on a nationwide level: on June 4, China Central Television (CCTV), the country’s leading state-run broadcaster, issued an hour-long special about blockchain, featuring government officials as well as foreign crypto experts.

During the show, it was said that blockchain is “10 times more than that of the internet” in terms of economic value, while the technology was also dubbed as “the machine that generates trust.” The very same broadcaster, CCTV, would smear crypto projects during the clampdowns, as has been pointed out by other media outlets.

Many will argue that there is no splitting cryptocurrencies from blockchain technology, and that they are intrinsically linked, such as Elizabeth Stark, CEO of Lightning Labs, which developed the Lightning blockchain scalability protocol. Stark has spoken out against this narrative, that is not only being pitched by Ma — and the likes — in China, but also much of Wall Street, which is fearful of the financial implications that Bitcoin has on the current established order of money.

“When we first pitched my company Lightning Labs, we actually took the word ‘Bitcoin’ out of our deck and our marketing material because it was so much about blockchain. Now, I feel like we’ve entered into a ‘Bitcoin, not blockchain’ world, where people understand the value of cryptocurrency technology and what these can bring. You also have Proof-of-Work in Bitcoin, you have the public/private key cryptography. There are other things that make Bitcoin special. Somehow, the blockchain part got separated and became a thing.”

A long way from buying on Alibaba with Bitcoin

It seems, then, that those in Asia, who are waiting to spend their hard-hodled Bitcoin on Alibaba to make payments that much easier, are in for disappointment. There is nothing across the technology conglomerate that even remotely suggests that Alibaba will be accepting Bitcoin anytime soon.

The same can be said about Amazon, really. People may be polling for Amazon to accept Bitcoin, but really, their eyes are on a much bigger, blockchain prize. There may be a debate as to the possibility of separating Bitcoin and blockchain — and if it is viable or right — but what is for certain is that those at the top of their game seem to be more interested in the technology rather than the ‘prize.’

Amazon and Alibaba have both shown that — even as eCommerce companies — they can benefit a lot more from blockchain, Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency: from expanding on the underlying technology to then simply accepting the coins that come with it.

Ma’s sentiment about not becoming rich overnight by leveraging blockchain technology is entirely true. For these major businesses, there is a lot more value in going through the process of perfecting blockchain use in their sectors before really looking into generally accepting a new form of digital payment.

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Jack Ma: “Technology Itself Isn’t The Bubble, But Bitcoin Likely is”

He is actively exploring blockchain potential, but is staying away from cryptocurrencies

Chinese businessman and billionaire Jack Ma, famous for owning the Alibaba Group business emporium, once again warned of the possibility that Bitcoin could be a bubble, according to Bloomberg.

Jack Ma presents Justin Sun with Diploma

Jack Ma is also known in the crypto sphere for mentoring Justin Sun, creator of Tron (TRX), a successful blockchain with an aggressive business model. Now, Justin Sun wants to mentor other entrepreneurs.

Mr Ma commented on Bitcoin during an event held by Ant Financial Services Group this Monday. Ant Financial Services is a China-based corporation specialized in financing, money management, and other services. Its parent organization is precisely Alibaba.

Jack Ma had previously adopted this Pro-Blockchain/ Anti-Bitcoin stance, but in the past he had taken a more conservative approach, confessing that although it was his personal opinion, it was that of someone inexperienced in the field.

However, this Monday he was a little more direct, maintaining his way of thinking, but with less subtle statements:

“Blockchain technology could change our world more than people imagine… Bitcoin, however, could be a bubble.”

Jack MaJack Ma

The debate over the usefulness of Bitcoin has divided the community of investors more than the conceptions regarding the usability of blockchain technologies. More and more discussions are separating the two concepts, concluding that they will follow different paths.

Jack Ma’s criticism points to the fact that excessive and uncontrolled speculation may be giving counterproductive results for the global adoption of cryptocurrencies:

“(The Blockchain)must be used to solve data privacy, security and sustainability issues … (but cryptocurrencies have become) tools and concepts for making money.”

Jack Ma

Last year Bitcoin started with a value close to 1k and culminated with a growth that took it to a maximum of 20K at the end of the year.

Graphs: Tradingview

According to Jack Ma, this is not only an anomaly in price performance, it is also wrong. He also mentioned that this speculation makes bitcoin dangerous even though the technology behind it (Blockchain) is promising:

“It is…not right to become rich overnight by betting on blockchain … Technology itself isn’t the bubble, but bitcoin likely is,”

Jack Ma

Jack Ma: Making Finances Better, Just Not Thanks To Crypto

In the meantime, Jack Ma is working on a new payment and remittance model. Previously, the CFIUS or “Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States,” blocked his attempt to buy MoneyGram, a move that sparked the idea of creating a better competition to traditional payment services such as MoneyGram.

Jack Ma is currently working on a money transfer service that would initially operate between Hong Kong and the Philippines. This will be a pilot service before expanding to the rest of the world.

To achieve this, Alipay is establishing strategic alliances with various institutions such as Standard Chartered and several other fintechs.

Fintechs according to Jack Ma will revolutionize the way of sending money and doing businesses around the world:

“Traditional financial institutions serve 20 percent of people and make 80 percent of profits. New financial institutions should service 80 percent of people, and make 20 percent of profit,”Jack Ma

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Alibaba Offshoot Trials First Blockchain Remittance to Philippines, Plans Global Expansion

Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial has trialled its first blockchain remittances, sending a transaction in three seconds, Bloomberg reports June 25.

The company, formerly known as AliPay, completed a funds transfer between its AliPayHK app in Hong Kong and Filipino payment app GCash, its joint project with local telecoms company Globe Telecom.

Part of a growing trend of Blockchain remittances in the Philippines, Ant Financial will establish international outreach in future, CEO Jack Ma told the press on the back of the project.

“Using blockchain to achieve cross-border remittances is one of my most concerned projects in the past six months. Starting from Hong Kong, this service (AlipayHK) will be brought to the rest of the world in the future,” online cryptocurrency resource cnLedger quoted him as saying. The quote continues:

“Blockchain should not be a tech to get rich overnight…There are still 1.7 billion people in the world who have no bank accounts, but most of them have mobile phones. The impact of blockchain on the future of humans may be far beyond our imagination.”

Ma had signalled increasing involvement of AliPay in blockchain for several years, AliPay parent company Ant International securing $14 bln in funding for blockchain development earlier this month.

The tycoon conversely remains bearish on cryptocurrency, which he in May described as a “bubble”.

His perspective echoes those of many major finance figures on Bitcoin (BTC), one which cryptocurrency advocates continue to rebut as prices descend.

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Alipay’s Parent Company Secures $14 Bln for Blockchain Development

Alipay’s operator Ant International has entered into “definitive agreements” with investors to secure $14 bln in a Series C equity financing round. The money will be spent to pursue blockchain and technological innovation, according to a company announcement today, June 8th.

Recently valued as high as $150 bln, China’s Ant International plans to invest the capital in accelerating Alipay’s blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), security, and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities for its global tech platform, that targets delivering financial services to unbanked and underbanked consumers and small enterprises globally.

The financing round includes an RMB tranche raised from domestic investors, as well as a USD tranche raised from over nine of Ant International’s existing international institutional investors. Major global banks including Deutsche Bank, Citi, China International Capital Corporation, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisors for the deal.

According to the company announcement, in the year ended March 31, 2018, Alipay, together with its global partners, served approximately 870 mln annual active users globally and over 15 mln small businesses in China.

Eric Jing, Executive Chairman and CEO of Ant Financial, said that the company will dedicate the funds to “building an open ecosystem… [and investing] in technology and innovation in order to serve unmet financial needs of people everywhere and to enable them to benefit from the development of the digital economy.”

As early as summer 2016, Ant Financial, introduced blockchain technology to improve accountability in its work with the Chinese charity industry, going on to recruit blockchain experts in the company at large the following year.

In 2017, CEO Eric Jing said that he “definitely” expected to see blockchain becoming “deeply” implemented into Alipay in future, eventually acting as a base protocol for the overwhelmingly popular mobile payment application.

Ant International has been a long-term subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding, whose founder Jack Ma last year became the richest man in Asia, with his net worth surging to $41.8 bln.

This May, Ma spoke at the 2nd World Intelligence Conference in Tianjin, saying he has been researching blockchain for years, and believes strongly in the technology’s wide-ranging potential. Ma however reserved sharp comments for Bitcoin, dismissing the leading cryptocurrency as “a bubble.”

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E-Commerce Giant Alibaba's Jack Ma Says Blockchain Is Not a Bubble, Bitcoin Is

Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, spoke out at the 2nd World Intelligence Conference in Tianjin, saying that blockchain technology is not a bubble, but Bitcoin is, Wednesday, May 16.

Ma said he has been researching blockchain for years, and believes strongly in its potential to address issues of data privacy and security for society at all levels – governments, corporations and individuals – in an “era of big data.” He stressed that security is a top priority for the e-commerce conglomerate, which reported $39.9 bln in yearly revenue in its latest fiscal Q4 earnings release, and has a trading volume of “trillions of transactions.”

Ma added that regrettably, much of the attention the emerging blockchain industry receives comes from speculators who view blockchain as a “huge gold mine.” Ma was wary of Bitcoin even during its peak in December 2017, reportedly telling CNBC Shanghai at the time:

“I don’t know about Bitcoin at all. I’m particularly puzzled. Even if it can really work, the rules of global trade and the financial system will be completely changed. I don’t think we are ready. So I’m still paying attention to Alipay… to the US dollar, and the euro. We have a team that studies blockchain, but Bitcoin is not something that I want to pursue. We don’t care about Bitcoin.”

Last year, Jack Ma became the richest man in Asia, according to Bloomberg, with his net worth surging to $41.8 bln. The overwhelmingly popular mobile payment app Alipay, run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, reportedly has 450 mln users.

As early as summer 2016, Ant Financial, introduced blockchain technology to improve accountability in its work with the Chinese charity industry, going on to recruit blockchain experts in the company at large the following year.

However, in line with Ma’s position, Alibaba Group has stopped short of embracing cryptocurrencies, with Alibaba Cloud recently denying rumours its newly launched ‘P2P Nodes’ network was a cryptocurrency mining platform. Later, in April, Alibaba subsidiary Taobao banned all ICO-related advertising from its platform.

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The Tron (TRX) Decentralized Apps No One Is Talking About

Tron (TRX) is currently still basking in the glory of a successful TestNet launch and the Justin Sun live-stream on the 31st of March, less than 8 days ago. The live-stream was then followed by the Technical team explaining and answering questions about the Tron project. To add icing on the cake, Justin Sun recently graduated from the prestigious Hupan University which has Jack Ma as its Principal and co-founder. The other co-founders are 8 prominent entrepreneurs and distinguished scholars whose main aim was to groom up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the ever chaining world of global business that is shaped by technology.

Evidence of the ever evolving technology space is the Tsunami-like growth of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Tron has lead the way in terms of project developments and excitement in the blockchain space.

What has gone under the radar, is that the Tron platform based on Ethereum, has functional Decentralized apps already running on it. These DApps will in turn be migrated to the final Tron Network that is slated for release on May 31st.

The DApps currently have 100 Million existing users with Peiwo leading in popularity with 30 Million constant users. Peiwo is an anonymous chat application available for download on Android and iOS. By being anonymous, users can be themselves 100% and find new friends.

Another DApp is Game.com that provides a new world of gaming to help digital currencies provide entertainment service applications and promote the rapid development of blockchain technology by means of entertainment content. Gifto is another DApp that enables community participants from different platforms to work together to create, review, and customize a wide range of high-quality virtual gifts for content creators around the world and leverage the power of blockchain technology to create a decentralized ecosystem.

Odyssey is a DApp with the mission of building the next-generation decentralized sharing economy & Peer to Peer Ecosystem. The sharing economy is further expanded by the OBike DApp that is a stationless bike sharing platform, providing a hassle free, more sustainable, healthy, tech-friendly, and economic mode of transport.  Mico which is a mobile social networking platform for the global market.

The Kitty live DApp amplifies live-streaming around the world. GSC (Global Social China) is the world’s first new generation of social network chain that owns hundreds of millions of social users. Another DApp that uses Tron is Baofeng Xinging which helps blockchain businesses deploy massive nodes rapidly.

With the TRON community already excited about future DApps on Mainnet, the sky is the limit for the Tron Project.

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Tron’s (TRX) Justin Sun, Graduates From Jack Ma’s Hupan University

After three years of hard work at Hupan University, Tron’s  (TRX) Justin Sun can now be considered as a graduate of the institution that has Jack Ma as its Principal.  As a matter of fact, the University was established and launched by Jack Ma who is also the founder and executive chairmen of Alibaba. The school is aimed at grooming entrepreneurs for the ever changing global business world. He co-founded the school with 8 other ‘heavy weight’ entrepreneurs and distinguished scholars.

Jack Ma, who also teaches there, had envisioned an institution where their experience and knowledge would be passed down to the next generation of CEOs. Hupan University follows commercial business principles while having set key values to perfect society and ensuring non-profit and public welfare. The admission process is rigorous and each year, less than 50 entrepreneurs from different industries are accepted from over a thousand highly qualified applicants.

It is with premise that one can see the significance of Justin Sun’s achievement at the University. On the afternoon of March 26th, Sun submitted a graduation thesis titled “the Birth of a Decentralized Internet’. The thesis provided a detailed look into his thoughts through his experience in the blockchain industry and how it will evolve with time. He also presented a thesis defense titled ‘Reflections and Thoughts on a Four-Year Journey as an Entrepreneur’ which gave his in-depth analysis of his experience since deciding to be an entrepreneur in 2014 and tackling the Tron Project head on.

Sun also updated his mentor, Jack Ma, about the progress of the Tron project. He also let him in on future developments and expressed his gratitude to the Alibaba chairman as well as the school’s board for their continual support and encouragement through the years at Hupan. Sun has officially become the school’s first millennial graduate.

                      Hupan University’s First Graduating Class and school board members Source: Tron foundation

We, at Ethereum World News and all the Tron believers, wish to congratulate Justin Sun on his achievement. We also wish the First Graduating Class all the best in the future.