On May 17, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released its public blockchain ratings, ranking various blockchain projects like Ethereum in the global cryptocurrency sector based on three criteria: technology, application, and innovation.
Bitcoin at #13
As shown in the chart below, the Chinese government ranked Ethereum as the world’s best blockchain network at number 1. The top five included Ethereum, Steem, Lisk, NEO, and Komodo, all of which utilize smart contracts to efficiently and securely process information in a decentralized manner.
The addition of Steem in the top five rankings of the Chinese government’s blockchain network was unexpected by the community because unlike Lisk and NEO, Steem is not a base layer blockchain technology that can be used to create decentralized applications. Steem is a content distribution platform based on the blockchain with a primary purpose of distributing content. Essentially, Steem is like Reddit based on the decentralized blockchain.
Another surprising addition to its top 10 rankings was Monero at number 9, given that several governments including the Japanese government and its financial services agency (FSA) have expressed their concerns towards cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash that are capable of processing anonymous payments that could be associated with money laundering and criminal activities.
The cryptocurrency community was taken aback by the ranking of bitcoin at 13, which was co-ranked with privacy-focused cryptocurrency Verge. The bitcoin community was understandably outraged by the ranking of bitcoin at 13, considering that bitcoin has the longest track record as the most secure and dominant cryptocurrency in the global market.
The argument that bitcoin’s application is limited to a form of money and payment is illogical, as the Chinese government ranked Steem, which has a single application on its blockchain network that is a content distribution platform, as the 2nd best blockchain network behind Steem.
More importantly, bitcoin has one of the most active open source development communities in the global cryptocurrency sector and it has developed innovative technologies like Confidential Transactions (CT), Bulletproofs, and Lightning Network, which allows developers to enable private transactions, process micro-payments, and with solutions like RootStock, potentially allow bitcoin to function as an Ethereum-like smart contracts platform.
The majority of the cryptocurrency community expected the Chinese government to rank private blockchain networks and protocols that can assist the government in surveillance or monitoring transactions at the top. Hence, the ranking of the government which placed cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Monero demonstrate the intent of the government to remain objective in its assessment.
However, analysts have stated that the Chinese government has overlooked the long track record, hashrate, computing power, and accumulated difficulty of major blockchain networks like bitcoin and prioritized next-generation blockchain networks instead.
Earlier this month, South China Morning Post, a major publication based in Hong Kong, reported that China’s public blockchain rankings were developed by China Center for Information Industry Development (CIID), an institute that works closely with the government to advise on policymaking in technology.
The high ranking of Ethereum and smart contract blockchain networks could influence the government to potentially allow some blockchain networks to operate in China.