Despite the Chinese government cracking down on ICOs and centralized exchanges in September 2017, China’s blockchain industry is everything but dead. The crackdown mainly focused on the speculative part of cryptocurrencies and avoidance of too much money leaving the country. The government itself has great interest in blockchain technology and the fact that it was specifically mentioned as area of development in the most recent five-year plan published in October can be seen as a big sign of support from Beijing. Hence, the number of Chinese projects is still increasing rapidly. One of the Chinese projects that already started before the ‘China FUD’ took control of the market is Bytom.
The project is based in Hangzhou, a city in eastern China about 180 kilometers west of Shanghai and most known as headquarters of e-commerce giant Alibaba. Bytom is founded by Duan Xinxing (段新星) and 8BTC-founder Chang Jia (长铗). The former is a financial and technology researcher, winner of the Gates Foundation scholarship and former senior engineer of Lucent-Bell Lab. He also used to be the vice-president of OKCoin and wrote several books related to blockchain, including ‘Blockchain: Reshaping the economy and the world’ and ‘Blockchain Development and Practices’. Currently, he is in charge of Bytom’s operational and technology department. The latter was one of the early adopters in China’s blockchain industry and started spreading the word about Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin and blockchain and he also founded 8BTC. Ever since it was founded in 2011, 8BTC has been a leading (media) platform on blockchain and cryptocurrencies in China. Last month, the company secured another round of financing from its investors, including Bitmain. Spread over two rounds they obtained a total amount of 100 million RMB (USD16 million). Bytom and 8BTC are two completely independent organizations, yet maintain a deep strategic partnership.
Another key member of the Bytom team is Lang Yu (朗豫). Mr. Lang was previously a senior engineer at Alipay. According Arkin Li (李沐阳), Bytom’s international business development manager, at present the total team of Bytom consists of more than 50 people of which the vast majority belongs to the technical team. “We have volunteers in South Korea, Singapore and the US. We are also in the process of officially opening our office in the US”, says Arkin Li.
“One of bitcoin’s biggest problems is the huge energy consumption that comes with the current POW algorithm. Bytom’s tackles this problem with an AI-based algorithm”
– Lang Yu, CTO Bytom
AI-friendly POW mechanism
According Duan Xinxing’s vision, blockchain technology will have a major impact on the financial industry. Hence, it’s no surprise that Bytom focuses on the exchange of multi-assets and connecting the real world with the digital world. Mr. Duan has defined it as ‘the infrastructure of assets internet’, enabling financial service providers to build Dapps on top of the Bytom blockchain, including wallets, decentralized exchanges and distributed assets applications to name a few.
Bytom aims to be an innovator in the blockchain industry. One example of this is adopting an AI-friendly proof-of-work (POW) algorithm. Lang Yu says, “One of bitcoin’s biggest problems is the huge energy consumption that comes with the current POW algorithm. Bytom’s tackles this problem with an AI-based algorithm. Simply put, due to the design of our Matrix mechanism, Bytom’s mining equipment can also be used for artificial intelligence and deep-level learning. At the same time, our equipment uses significantly less energy. We are confident that our artificial intelligence ASIC chips are going to reshape the mining industry and enable further innovations in the field of artificial intelligence. We developed this AI algorithm in cooperation with a leading Chinese tech university. Due to a NDA I am not able to release the name of this institution. We also got great support of our strategic partner Bitmain, which is the largest blockchain and artificial intelligence hardware manufacturer in the world.”
It will be interesting to see when Bytom will achieve widespread adoption of its platform, especially when it comes to more traditional assets such as securities, stocks and bonds. These kinds of assets not only fall into already heavily regulated markets; these industries will also be very careful moving forward to adopt blockchain technology. Platforms will have to prove themselves over a longer time of period before it will be even considered to use them.
According Arkin Li, the team is currently working hard on the business development side as well. Bytom has been talking to some of the large commercial banks in China, as well as to international financial institutions in other regions across the world and progress has been made. However, since all of these organizations are rather careful about adopting blockchain technology, Bytom is not allowed to announce anything yet.
Besides financial institutions, Bytom is also seeking partnerships with companies that can provide technical support, such as COOIX, which focuses on financial data services and investor in LegendStart. Other parties of interest to Bytom are brokers and (stock) exchanges.
“The moment our main net is live, it will be crucial to significantly grow our global community, attract more partners and develop one or two use cases as soon as possible”
– Arkin Li, International Business Development Manager Bytom
The whitepaper that was published last year, showed a roadmap till the launch of the main net in Q2 of 2018. Many Bytom fans and other crypto enthusiasts will be more than interested to know what they can expect next. Arkin Li explains, “Bytom has three main goals that it wants to achieve this year. The first one is launching our main net. This has the highest priority and we are excited to launch in April after all the hard work of our technical team. Secondly, the moment our main net is live, it will be crucial to significantly grow our global community and thirdly we will attract more partners to utilize the Bytom platform and develop one or two use cases as soon as possible.”
Late March, Bytom successfully held a community meet-up in Seoul, which marked the fifth international stop after Tokyo, Singapore, San Francisco and New York. According Arkin Li, the reason to first visit these countries is their mature state of development of blockchain technology and, in the case of Singapore, its welcoming and well-established policies. The US, Japan and South Korea are all at the front of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies’ adoption, so those are simply markets that Bytom cannot ignore. After the main net launch, Bytom plans to organize a new series of community events in South Korea, Singapore and the US.
Bytom will allocate a total amount of one million tokens to further grow its global community. And although to date it has not been in Europe yet, it’s definitely another area where we can soon expect Bytom to become more active. As in other locations, it will look for reliable partners that are familiar with local culture and business practices.
As Bytom’s main net will be launched soon, it will definitely be interesting to keep an eye on this project. As with the majority of projects at this stage, a lot will depend on a few key players adopting their platform. The combination of artificial intelligence and blockchain is very interesting and an increasing amount of companies are targeting this area at the moment. Not a big surprise if you know that the policy makers in Beijing want to be a global leader in AI, generating a yearly output of 400 billion RMB (USD59 billion). Arkin Li is confident about the future of Bytom, “Of course at this stage blockchain and AI attracts the attention of many players, including major companies like Microsoft, IBM and Tencent. However, I believe that the market for these technologies is big enough for everyone to succeed. The market will decide which solutions can last for a long time and obtain widespread industry adoption.”
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