Five-year Global Partnership
A few days ago, UEFA — the body that controls European football — announced a new five-year global partnership for blockchain technology with Chinese company AntChain, the blockchain subsidiary of Ant Group which also owns Alipay.
As the official blockchain partner of the delayed UEFA EURO 2020, AntChain will use blockchain to record top scorer records during the month-long competition.
As UEFA’s former president Michel Platini has been — along with FIFA’s Sepp Blatter — investigated for corruption as to his decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, the news comes as a blessing to one avid soccer fan (me), and maybe the first move of many which implements blockchain technology for — not only keeping anodyne scoring records — but also for much more important things such as voting within UEFA, for instance.
Still a company in its early days of development, AntChain was rebranded last summer to offer blockchain-based solutions that aggregate digital technologies like AI and secure computation. It could also be the reason why Ant Group took the decision to release AntChain onto the global market by securing this UEFA partnership, which is certain to solidify the brand’s international visibility, and a clear indication that Ant Group has the intention to build up the AntChain name outside of China’s borders, too.
The partnership, however, shouldn’t be confused with Alipay’s Top Scorer trophy for the UEFA EURO 2020, as Alipay is already involved with UEFA having signed an eight-year global partnership back in 2018.
With the goal of underpinning trust and reinforcing transparency in sectors where large numbers of participants and complex processes are required, Ant Group’s investment in the research and development of blockchain technologies goes back to at least 2015. This comes after Ant Group’s launch of Trusple last year, a blockchain platform for international trade created to help SMEs with cross-border trade finance. With major international banks like Citi, Standard Chartered and DBS already on board as customers, this is just another Ant Group success story.
This is in contrast to sister firm Alibaba, recently on the receiving end of a $2.8 billion antitrust fine, forcing it to restructure as a financial holding company. Yet, that’s not all folks: restrictions have also been forced on its buy-now-pay-later solution “Huabei” and the “Jiebei” lending platform, the latest setbacks for Ant Group after its major IPO was retracted in late 2020.
As more see the benefits blockchain technology can offer them, it’s an obvious case that more adoption will be seen. The AntChain and UEFA partnership, then, is just an early indicator of things to come.