Prospects for China’s blockchain standards and technology development trends

The development of blockchain technology directly restricts the application value of blockchain as the underlying infrastructure, and also determines the breadth and depth of blockchain and industry integration. Among them, the blockchain standard is one of the most critical links in the development of blockchain technology and the realization of industrial application, which directly affects the development path of blockchain technology. In addition, different aspects of blockchain technology are also showing different characteristics and trends at this stage.

In order to fully display the development of the blockchain industry, 01 Blockchain and Zero One Think Tank will launch the “China Blockchain Industry Development Census Report (2021)”, and relevant institutions are welcome to participate in providing innovative cases.

Status quo of China’s blockchain technology standards

Blockchain standards progress leaps forward in 2021

Major institutions at home and abroad are actively leading the formulation of blockchain standards. From a global perspective, different countries place different emphasis on standards. Andrew Martin, director of the Center for Cyberspace Security at Oxford University and an expert in the International Standards Group for Trusted Computing, said that the United States pays more attention to basic common standards; Germany prefers engineering standards, and industrial blockchain is the focus of the country; Japan pays more attention to Service standards, such as blockchain-based services and application practices.

At present, China’s formulation of blockchain technology standards is mainly reflected in infrastructure, with applications and services accounting for a small proportion. China is one of the earliest regions to carry out blockchain standardization work. As early as October 2016, with the establishment of the China Blockchain Technology and Industry Development Forum, China started the standardization of blockchain and distributed accounting technology. Work.

As a major country in the application of blockchain technology, China also plays an important role in promoting the formulation of blockchain standards. In July 2021, during the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Group 13 (SG13) meeting, with the joint efforts of the blockchain team of China Telecom Research Institute, two blockchain standards led by China Telecom , After several rounds of discussions and consultations with experts from China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and South Korea, the project was finally approved. The two criteria are as follows:

Prospects for China's blockchain standards and technology development trends

Starting from the status quo of China’s domestic blockchain standards, according to the national standard information public service platform, the national group standard information platform, the enterprise standard information public service platform, and the incomplete statistics of 01 blockchain, by the end of 2021, my country has released 153 districts. Blockchain standards, including 8 national standards, 3 industry standards, 18 local standards, 70 blockchain group standards and 54 enterprise standards.

2021 is a year of rapid progress in China’s blockchain standardization work, with 82 new blockchain-related standards added in a single year, accounting for 53% of the total number of existing blockchain standards. Among them, 5 national standards, 1 industry standard, 3 local standards, 44 blockchain group standards and 29 enterprise standards will be added in 2021. The newly added industry, local standards and national standards are shown in the figure below.

Table 1. New national standards related to blockchain in 2021

Prospects for China's blockchain standards and technology development trends

Source: 01 Blockchain · Zero One Think Tank according to public data statistics

Table 2. New blockchain-related industries and local standards in 2021

Prospects for China's blockchain standards and technology development trends

Source: 01 Blockchain · Zero One Think Tank according to public data statistics

From the perspective of industry classification, there are a total of 79 standards belonging to the information transmission, software and information technology service industries, accounting for 52%, followed by the financial industry (30 items), accounting for 19%, followed by other Internet services (14 items, 9%) and scientific research and technical services (11 items, 7%). In addition, blockchain technology standards also involve industries such as wholesale and retail, leasing and business services, and educational services. Overall, my country’s research on blockchain technology standards is still dominated by infrastructure, and application-level standards need to be further developed.

Figure 1. Industry distribution of blockchain standards

Prospects for China's blockchain standards and technology development trends

Source: 01 Blockchain · Zero One Think Tank according to public data statistics

Combining with the 118 local and enterprise-related blockchain technology standards issued, in terms of regional distribution, Jiangsu Province ranks first with 26 blockchain standards, followed by Guangdong Province with 23. Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang Province are in the second tier with more than ten blockchain standards. The third echelon includes Fujian, Hunan and Guizhou provinces. Overall, the results of blockchain standards in various regions are closely related to the scale of blockchain-related enterprises and the strength of policy support in the region.

Figure 2. Number of blockchain standards issued by provinces and cities

Prospects for China's blockchain standards and technology development trends

Source: 01 Blockchain · Zero One Think Tank according to public data statistics

Three difficulties in blockchain standardization

The Global Standards Mapping Initiative: An overview of blockchain technical standards published by The Global Standards Mapping Initiative (GSMI) draws maps from more than 30 technical standard-setting entities and 185 jurisdictions Regions and nearly 400 industry groups. The report sorts out the key points that still need to be broken through in the current blockchain standard formulation.

  • Blockchain terms still lack a unified definition

At present, the lack of a unified definition and terminology in the blockchain industry is a key issue that needs to be broken through for the development of the industry. There is a lack of uniform and deterministic definitions of blockchain-related terms under different institutions. Although these differences may seem small, they will be amplified throughout the development and implementation of the standard, and will directly affect the institutions’ perceptions of blockchain-related terms. Interpretation differences in technology.

  • There are gaps and overlaps in the standard setting area

There are differences and overlaps in the content and scope of standards in the blockchain standardization process. This is mainly reflected in the following aspects: First, the layering method of blockchain standards in the technology stack varies from organization to organization, such as network-oriented standards and application-oriented standards. Second, the application of blockchain in vertical industries involves multiple entities such as financial institutions and compliance agencies, and different entities lack a consistent pace in formulating standards. Third, blockchain overlaps with other highly standardized technical fields, such as cryptography, zero-knowledge proofs, etc. These technologies also have a significant impact on blockchain standards and technology trajectories.

  • Standards are influenced by geographic factors, the profession and role of the maker

At present, the main body of blockchain standard setting is mainly located in Europe, North America and China, and although some institutions intend to incorporate global voices into their initiatives through local groups or regional representatives, many institutions still lack global representation. As a result, standard setting can be influenced by factors such as infrastructure, regulation and culture in certain regions. The lack of representativeness in the standard formulation process is also reflected in the professional knowledge of the formulation subjects, which leads to a “preference” in the direction of standard research and development, and the standards formulated may not necessarily benefit the end users of the technology. In addition, the “role” of setting standards also leads to transparency problems in the standardization process, such as the standardization work carried out by producers, which raises the concern of consumers being excluded or even exploited in the process.

The evolution trend of blockchain technology

According to the “Blockchain White Paper 2021” released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, at present, the blockchain has entered a new stage of development oriented by “trust chain” and “collaboration chain”. On the one hand, with the importance of data as a production factor, blockchain technology supports the low-cost construction of a full-process trust channel for data, and helps the digital transformation of the industry by building a “trust chain”. On the other hand, the blockchain itself is also being comprehensively upgraded in terms of technology, application and industrial dimensions, and deeply serves various intersecting fields and subjects by building a trusted collaboration network.

In terms of the evolution trend of blockchain technology, the “Blockchain White Paper (2021)” issued by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology divides blockchain technology into three categories: core technology, extension technology and cross-chain technology. The three major types of technologies have different characteristics in terms of development trends, but in general, the current blockchain technology architecture has become stable. Focusing on the actual needs of industrial blockchain scenarios, related technologies will continue to be “efficient, safe, and convenient”. evolution.

Prospects for China's blockchain standards and technology development trends

Source: China Academy of Information and Communications Technology

Incremental innovation of blockchain core technology

In 2021, there will be no obvious breakthroughs in the overall technology of blockchain, but the incremental innovation of core technologies will continue, among which the optimization and improvement of peer-to-peer networks, consensus mechanisms, and smart contracts are the most prominent. The core technology optimization is embodied in the following aspects.

One is the in-depth optimization of the peer-to-peer network. Ant Chain launched BTN (Blockchain Transmission Network) to improve the communication capabilities of blockchain nodes and accelerate data transmission in the blockchain network; Changan Chain released the self-developed P2P network Liquid instead of the open source component ibp2p, improving the area of Blockchain system compatibility and communication efficiency.

Second, the asynchronous consensus algorithm has made progress. The first fully practical asynchronous consensus algorithm in the world, the Dumbo Byzantine Fault Tolerant Algorithm (DUMBOBET), jointly proposed by the Zhang Zhenfeng team of the Institute of Software of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is expected to be applied in the actual production environment.

The third is the continuous exploration of smart contract development frameworks. FISCO-BCOS has released a new Rust-based Wasm contract language framework, Liquid, to explore new models of smart contracts. The domestic blockchain technology is in a point-like breakthrough situation, and the exploration of the boundaries of subdivision technology fields has continued to increase, and the overall technical level has continued to improve.

Expanding technology to enhance blockchain service capabilities

From the perspective of extended technology, the combination of blockchain technology and other related technologies such as the Internet of Things, privacy computing and cloud computing realizes the mutual complementation between technologies, and also expands the related technologies of blockchain service capabilities. These three technologies are also hot tracks in 2021.

The combination of blockchain and the Internet of Things can realize a trusted connection channel between the digital world and the physical world. IoT devices can effectively improve the authenticity of the data on the chain, and the blockchain can also provide credible guarantees for the flow of data elements and value mining. The combination of the two can promote the role of data elements and promote the application expansion of blockchain in the Internet of Things. .

Blockchain plus privacy computing is an emerging hot track. The combination of the two technologies can learn from each other and provide a new technical path and solution for realizing data value sharing. The privacy protection technology is embedded in the underlying infrastructure of the blockchain to promote the collaboration and sharing of multi-party data on the basis of realizing the “available and invisible” data.

The combination of blockchain and cloud computing BaaS (Blockchain as a Service, blockchain as a service) is based on cloud computing, through the integration of blockchain bottom layer, integrated development tools, smart contract management, automated operation and maintenance, digital identity, cross-border Chain services and other functions to achieve one-stop development and deployment of the bottom layer and applications of the blockchain. Ant, Tencent, Huawei, Qulian and other mainstream BaaS Pinghe now have the capabilities of multi-engine support, multi-mode deployment, and multi-node system management.

The urgency of cross-chain interoperability is highlighted

With the continuous expansion of the breadth and depth of blockchain applications, the trilemma of difficulty in cross-chain between different blockchain platforms, difficulty in switching between upper-layer application systems and the underlying chain, and difficulty in trusted interaction on the chain and off the chain has gradually become prominent. Interoperability between chains is particularly important, the most urgent, and a recognized focus and difficulty in the industry.

The main technical means of cross-chain interoperability include notary mechanism, side chain/relay chain, hash time lock, and distributed private key control. The above cross-chain projects verify the feasibility of inter-chain interoperability from a technical level, but are subject to In terms of technology, application, process mechanism and other factors, it is still in the early stage as a whole.

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