The local government of Beijing released on Thursday a blueprint of its plan to implement a blockchain-based programmable government.

Why it matters: This is the first time China’s capital city has laid out details of how it will implement blockchain in its operations.

Details: The government’s main goals in the plan are to build a blockchain-based unified framework for digital governance, facilitate data-sharing between agencies and businesses, and enable cross-departmental and cross-regional collaboration.

Beijing’s 12 blockchain application cases

Project Name Function Goals
Municipal Commercial Bureau Airport International Logistics Blockchain Platform Logistics, cross-border trade Data sharing between merchants, logistics operators, customs authorities, regulators, airport authorities to facilitate customs in cross-border air cargo trade.
Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Port Customs Clearance Logistics, cross-border trade Data sharing between port authorities, tax agencies, and customs authorities to coordinate between port terminals.
City Financial Electronic Identity Authentication System Enterprise banking Reduce time and application materials, while ensuring identity authentication in enterprise banking.
City Electronics Bills System Billing Improve the ability of businesses to issue bills and track reimbursement.
Haidian District Finance Platform for SMEs Finance for SMEs Improve access to capital for SMEs and risk management for their lenders.
Municipal Real Estate Registration System Property management Revamp the management of real estate, including mortgages, deposits, utility bills, tax audits, and more.
Multi-terminal Business Licensing System Enterprise Regulation Improve authentication processes for businesses, as well as collaboration between firms through electronic certificates.
Internet+Government Haidian District Pilot E-governance Create a “national benchmark” for comprehensive blockchain-powered government. More than 100 government agencies will implement blockchain for managing anything from high-tech enterprises to unemployment benefits.
Xicheng District Government Services Pilot E-governance Improve bureaucratic efficiency for various government services through data sharing and electronic certificates.
Chaoyang District Government Services Pilot E-governance Improve bureaucratic efficiency for various government services through data sharing and electronic certificates.
Shunyi District Government Services Pilot E-governance Improve bureaucratic efficiency for various government services through data sharing, smart contracts and electronic certificates.
Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone Government Services Enterprise governance Create a “one-stop” service platform in the special economic zone that manages government services. This will help make the area “a world-class business environment,” according to Beijing.
  • The plan does not include details about the blockchain-based, city-wide identity and social credit platform promised in previous statements from the Beijing government.
  • The blockchain work committee is led by the Beijing Municipal Government Service Bureau, the Municipal Science and Technology Commission, and the Municipal Economic Information Bureau.
  • Already, 140 government services use blockchain, the government said in a statement. The applications include data sharing, linking businesses to save time, and epidemic control. These have helped resume production after the Covid-19 lockdown, and led to a 40% reduction in paperwork, according to the statement.

Context: Just two weeks ago, Beijing announced its plan to become a global hub for blockchain technology by 2022. It is one of 11 cities across China to release official strategies based on the technology.

  • Other than government applications, the city wants to support private sector innovation. It will also create a fund dedicated to supporting blockchain startups, a “talent training system,” and set up dedicated blockchain development parks.
  • Beijing’s plan is only one of major government-backed blockchain projects. Southern Hainan province’s special economic zone set up policies that have attracted major companies, and state-owned enterprises are working to build a globally-oriented “internet of blockchains.”
  • Since Xi Jinping’s speech in October praising blockchain, Chinese authorities have reversed its treatment of the technology.
  • Blockchain, and especially cryptocurrencies, were viewed with suspicion and faced heavy regulatory headwinds in the past.
  • Even bitcoin mining is coming into the mainstream, with Sichuan authorities setting up favorable policies.

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