Jack Ma, the chairman of Alibaba and $150 billion China-based financial conglomerate Ant Financial, has said in a recent speech that he pays special attention to Bitcoin and blockchain technology, and the potential of establishing a cashless society.
Although Ma is still studying the fundamental value Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies bring to the market, he emphasized that blockchain technology as a whole is a powerful innovation that could enable a completely cashless society.
China is Already Nearly Cashless
Only a very small portion of the population in China uses cash or credit cards to purchase products, receive compensation for their work, and to settle utility bills. Payment applications like Ant Financial’s $60 billion Alipay dominate the space.
With NFC-enabled smartphones, Alipay users in China can purchase coffee with a tap of a smartphone on sophisticated Point of Sale (PoS) terminals and instantaneously receive salaries from their employees through the app, without dealing with delays that often occur with wire transfers and inefficient banking services.
“I pay special attention to cashless society and blockchain technology. Mine and Alibaba’s job is we will move the world into a cashless society. The society can make everybody equal, inclusive to get the money they need, make sure it is sustainable and is transparent. I hate corruption. I don’t have opportunity is ok. But I don’t want somebody through a dirty way take away my opportunity. This is why we want a cashless society.”
Previously, speaking to FT, Ray Chan, vice-president of Ant Financial, said that new products of the company are tailored to millennials and the new generation users, who have demonstrated the willingness to move on from traditional means of payments to more efficient and sophisticated financial networks.
“When we consider new products, we create them for this era, one in which young people have become the main driving force of our society,” Chan said.
During his speech, Ma emphasized that he has not dismissed crypto or Bitcoin as a currency and a store of value. But, he is still undecided whether Bitcoin brings in sufficient value to the society as a consensus currency based on blockchain technology.
“Bitcoin, the thing I want to know is that what value, what things that itcoin can bring to the society. But Behind bitcoin, the technology itself, is really very powerful.”
Blockchain Technology as a Data Processing Platform
Currently, most of the world’s largest financial networks rely on centralized databases to record the transfer of fiat currencies and digital assets.
By blockchain technology, Ma refers to decentralized computing systems like Ethereum that enable businesses to build on top of the blockchain, like decentralized applications (dApps) and tokens on the ERC20 token standard.
As an incentive system to compensate good actors in the space and punish bad actors with malicious intent, a cryptocurrency is necessary on a blockchain platform that is not inherently centralized. Hence, as blockchain technology achieves mainstream adoption and an increasing number of conglomerates start to utilize the technology as an underlying platform to process information, the importance of crypto will increase.