Meet Red Date, the Little-Known Tech Firm Behind China’s Big Blockchain Vision

A driving force behind the scenes of China’s ambitious blockchain infrastructure project says he used to be skeptical of the technology.

“Initially I thought blockchain, especially distributed ledger technology [DLT], had no commercial value because it was too expensive,” said Yifan He, CEO of Beijing Red Date Technology. “Then, I realized we can actually build a multi-framework platform to reduce the cost for everyone.”  

That realization is a core idea of the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), a government-supported initiative scheduled to open for global commercial use Saturday. As the only one of the three original founding companies with a specialized software background, Red Date initiated the project and has been spearheading the network’s technical design. 

“I think nobody has ever heard of it. But actually, in many ways, Red Date Technology is probably the most important because they are the one who architected the BSN,” said Michael Sung, a professor at Fudan University’s Fanhai International School of Finance. “They are the one who actually created the strategy which went up to the [National] Development and Reform Commission. They made that happen.”

According to He, the three founding companies – telecom provider China Mobile, payments provider China Unionpay, and Red Date – have invested roughly 200 million yuan ($28.5 million) combined in BSN. They’ve also cut a deal to use two Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers in China.

While a little-known company with fewer than 100 employees, Red Date is a critical player in a project with potential geopolitical ramifications, an e-commerce equivalent of China’s Belt and Road initiative. The world’s most populous country has been investing in a variety of emerging technologies, from artificial intelligence to cloud computing to big data, in hopes of not missing out on the next industrial revolution.

Read also: Inside China’s Plan to Power Global Blockchain Adoption

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