China's first online-only insurer ZhongAn filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on June 30, revealing new details about its blockchain development in the process.
According to the draft filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, ZhongAn Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of ZhongAn Insurance, has developed a blockchain protocol called Ann-chain, which serves as its foundation for building applications. A separate platform, called Ann-router, is further described as a blockchain network component "intended to link isomorphic and heterogeneous blockchains."
Formed to focus on research and development of financial technology, ZhongAn Technology launched a series blockchain applications last year designed for distributed data storage. The latest, Ti-Packet, launched in May 2017 and described as a blockchain-based signing system, appears to have been adopted in a use case aimed at tracking chicken farming on a blockchain.
This technology development has also coincided with broader work with industry stakeholders.
In May this year, under an initiative led by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, ZhongAn Technology and a dozen other active blockchain developers drafted a document called the "Blockchain Reference Architecture" – an attempt to provide a standard for blockchain protocol development in China. The final version of the agreement was announced by the China Electronics Technology Standardization Academy in an industry summit, during which the Ann-chain and four other blockchain protocols passed the first batch of testing under such standardization.
Also notable in the filing is the size of ZhongAn's research and development team, which consists of 862 technicians and engineers. As of the end of 2016, it had received over $30m in investment in 2016.
The number of staff that focus on blockchain-related projects was not disclosed.
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