Tencent has emerged as the leading applicant for blockchain patent applications in China.
Figures from the National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA) indicate that as of the end of 2019 Tencent had applied for 777 blockchain-related patents in China, making it the top applicant in the country ahead of Alibaba in second place.
The “2019 Tencent Blockchain White Paper” (2019腾讯区块链白皮书) points to a sharp rise in blockchain patent applications in China over recent years.
In 2014 China accounted for 33.33% of new blockchain patent applications globally – a figure which rose to 82.1% by 2018, driven by domestic support policies and heavy investment by Chinese tech giants.
Tencent was one of the earliest companies to drive growth of blockchain applications in China, commencing independent research and development in the area in 2015.
Tencent has since applied blockchain technologies to a range of areas including finance, taxation, gaming, charity, supply chain financing and health care.
In August 2018 Tencent worked with the Shenzhen municipal government to launch China’s first blockchain-based electronic invoicing (fapiao) system.
As of the end of 2019 the system had issued over 14 million electronic fapiao, for sectors including banking, the metro system, taxis, real estate, tourism, finance, insurance, retail, hotels, car parks and catering.
In October 2019 Tencent teamed up with the Shenzhen Tax Bureau and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology to work on the “General Framework of Distributed Ledger Technology-based Invoices.”
According to Tencent the current General Framework project has obtained the approval and support of major economies including the UK, Switzerland, Sweden and Brazil at a recent international ITU-T meeting on standards for electronic invoices.