The Chinese government has earmarked additional funding for a blockchain-based trade finance platform developed and led by the country's central bank.
The People's Bank of China (PBoC) is to receive 32.35 million yuan (around $4.7 million) in "special funding" from the government over a three-year period for research and development into the trade initiative, officials confirmed to local media.
Known officially as the Bay Area Trade Finance Blockchain Platform, banks and businesses store order, logistics and transaction data on the system to create new transaction efficiencies. It's also said to provide regulators with greater oversight and gives small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to more sophisticated financing tools.
Led by PBoC's Digital Currency Research Lab, the trade finance platform is available to businesses based in Shenzhen, a mainland city neighboring Hong Kong. Major commercial banks, including Bank of China, Ping An and Standard Chartered, were invited to trial the platform when it entered the public testing phase in September 2018.
In January, Xinhua reported the platform was used by a network of 38 banks with total combined volumes exceeding 90 billion yuan ($13 billion). The new funding from Beijing is expected to help PBoC drive adoption for its trade finance platform among businesses.
A report from McKinsey said the platform could "create significant new opportunities" for banks, SMEs and service providers. As well as lower interest rates, analysts estimated loan approval times could fall to as little as 20 minutes.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said last autumn the country had to "seize the opportunity" when it came to blockchain technology, including increasing government investment and development in core technology areas.
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