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Chinese state-backed open-source blockchain partners with HSBC and Emperor Group in Hong Kong

Spartan Network, a blockchain infrastructure initiative intended at encouraging companies outside of mainland China to embrace the distributed ledger technology without the use of cryptocurrency, has been officially launched by China’s state-backed Blockchain Service Network (BSN).

At a ceremony in Hong Kong on Tuesday, BSN announced that the service’s initial group of users included more than ten businesses, including well-known conglomerates like the Emperor Group, HSBC, Lan Kwai Fong Group, and Maxim’s Group.

China Mobile, a state-owned telecom company, UnionPay, Red Date, and the State Information Centre, a government think tank run by the National Development and Reform Commission, officially launched BSN in 2020.

Since January of this year, the initiative has been running a blockchain infrastructure service called BSN-Distributed Digital Certificate (BSN-DDC), which enables businesses to issue non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on customised public blockchains without using cryptocurrencies, which are outlawed in China.

Tim Bailey, vice-president of global sales, stated at the event on Tuesday that 1,300 companies and organisations have signed up on the platform and carry out about a million transactions daily.

The Spartan Network, unveiled in May, is BSN’s first big expansion outside the mainland. It aims to entice traditional businesses worldwide to create new ways to use blockchain technology using its non-cryptocurrency-based infrastructure. Three open blockchains, forks of the Ethereum, Cosmos, and Polygon Edge blockchains, have so far been released by the network.

Without dealing with cryptocurrencies, enterprises can harness the benefits of open blockchains “in an easier and more cost-effective way”, Yifan He, chief executive of Hong Kong-based Red Date Technology, the technological architect of BSN, said on Tuesday.

For example, the cost of minting a standard NFT on BSN’s version of Ethereum is currently just 3 US cents, which will eventually drop to less than 1 US cents, He said. Fees are paid with the network’s so-called non-tradeable token (NTT), which cannot be transferred to other wallets.

Emperor Group, which has businesses spanning watches and jewellery, property and entertainment, aims to enable film-goers redeem presents using NFTs issued via the Spartan Network, the company’s chief technology officer Leo Tsang said during Tuesday’s event.

Lan Kwai Fong Group, the biggest bar and restaurant landlord in Hong Kong’s nightlife hub, is working to put membership loyalty points on the blockchain using the Spartan Network, group CEO Jonathan Zeman said. According to him, the company also plans to release NFTs that grant holders exclusive access to nightclubs, bars, or dining establishments.