Factom has been busy during a trip to China this month. Besides setting up a new office in the orient, the Austin Texas-based blockchain services company has also entered into two agreements. One is to provide data integrity services to iSoftStone, which has strategic planning for more than 80 smart cities around the country, and the other with Ancun Zhengxin, a major Chinese notary service.
Factom provides a distributed mechanism to lock in data, making it verifiable and independently auditable. The platform secures data on a distributed ledger, and then anchors it into Bitcoins Blockchain.
This approach allows for large amounts of data to be secured, without creating any performance problems for Bitcoin. Factom previously anchored Project Gutenberg, a collection of 28,000+ books, using only four transactions.
“Anchors in Bitcoin make it so that Factom cannot change its own history.”
Factom began their foray into asia earlier this year, when the company handled the technical support for a well-attended blockchain hackathon in Shanghai. Factom chairman David Johnston was a judge at the event, where US$60,000 was awarded to winners, all of whom submitted blockchain-based business startup plans.
Factom’s CTO, Jack Lu, recently told IBTimes that the company is back in China to work on more official contracts, and define the scope of current and future projects. Factom are also building a custom “Factom China,” in order to accommodate the “vast amount of data” they intend to manage.
Factom has since signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the international tech consulting firm iSoftStone, a firm with a network that includes 22 offshore delivery centers across China and over 20,000 employees. Factom will offer business advice and technical knowledge as iSoftStone shapes a blockchain strategy for its smart city solution.
According to a senior official from the National Development and Reform Commission of the People's Republic of China (NDRC), enterprises should be the key players in the construction of smart cities.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, in Dalian, Liaoning province late last year, the head of the China Center for Urban Development at the NDRC, Li Tie, said that many companies are already pioneers in various smart city areas.
According to Li, urbanization still has huge potential in China, with 750 million people living in the cities. China has more than 20,000 cities and millions more people are moving into them, creating a huge market and demand for development.
Li added that the smart city mode of development is ideal for the country’s urbanization, but it should not be dominated by the government.
The concept of "smart city" was initially raised by IBM, before that various names, such as digital city and intelligent city, have been used to describe using information technology to run a city more efficiently.
According to IBM, a smart city is an instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent city. While Forrester, a research and advisory firm, defines smart city as "the use of smart computing technologies to make the critical infrastructure components and services of a city—which include city administration, education, healthcare, public safety, real estate, transportation, and utilities—more intelligent, interconnected, and efficient."
“By applying Factom blockchain technology to our financial services, smart cities big data services, and construction of data exchange, we will drive more innovation in China.”
- Ye Yuping, iSoftStone Executive VP & CTO
In 2011, iSoftStone decided to invest more in the Smart City area, teaming up with IBM and WIOT to co-build a Center of Excellence (CoE) for Cloud Computing and Smart City.
The following year iSoftStone co-built IBM Cloud Computing Centers of Excellence (CCoE) in the cities of Liaoyuan and Lanzhou, and joined the China Smart City Industry Technology Innovation Strategic Alliance.
As part of the new agreement with Factome, ISoftStone will use Factom’s Apollo Product to provide a data storage, auditing, and verification layer for several regions in China. iSoftStone plans to use the platform to store smart city sensor data, which can monitor a range of data, from pollution to traffic.
Further strengthening ties in the region, Factom recently announced a partnership with Ancun Zhengxin, one of China’s largest data notarization services. This will enable Ancun to offer blockchain powered versions of their internet and voice notary services, which cover a range of formats, including documents, email, instant messaging, official contracts, copyrights, electronic government data, certifications, and even medical data. Ancun would be able to offer these services in their offices, which number over 100 in China.
"Through collaborating with Factom, we anticipate speeding up the process of providing blockchain technology-based solutions to our customers, while helping the industry move to the next level in technology, information integrity and data security."
- Bing He, Ancun Zhengxin
Much like their US contemporary, Docusign, which has also already started to integrate the Bitcoin blockchain into its service offering, Ancun Zhengxin exists to officialize documents, and is used by a large segment of the business world in China, across a range of industry sectors. Ancun’s customers include Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Sina, China Telecom, and the Supreme People’s Court.
Bing He, who is responsible for the technology at Ancun Zhengxin, told IBTimes that his company is "focused on providing our customers with a one-stop shop Internet technology solution, to meet their electronic data storage and notarization needs."