Ling listen to the micro-public bank blockchain open source observation: throw the code out, take the trust back

The total length of the visit was 10 hours, and the interview material was 80,000 words and 5,000 words. Looking at the blockchain practice of Weizhong Bank, we observe the curiosity, embarrassment and dreams of each financial technology company when it enters the blockchain. ——Tang Xia Ling

The bank has been practicing for more than ten years, but Ma Zhitao is not like a "financial person." On the contrary, he is deeply rooted in the deliberate distance of complex financial instruments: “Too complex financial instruments, in addition to helping those who have complex financial logic to obtain wealth, do not bring much help to ordinary people.”

Ma Zhitao is the vice president and chief information officer of Weizhong Bank. He is a pragmatist. In his view, financial instruments should be used to solve practical problems in society .

The Henry Ma, who grew up in Hong Kong, China, and graduated from the United States. Working in Silicon Valley for more than ten years, his experience at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and the experience of companies such as Oracle and Hewlett-Packard have made his thinking more forward-looking and forward-looking. After returning to China, he served as the general manager of Ping An Technology Co., Ltd., and led Ping An Bank to complete the replacement of the new core system.

In 2014, he came to Weizhong Bank and positioned himself to open source. After 5 years, in July 2019, 10 open source projects were released in one breath, all of which were put into the market for free use.

1. Why do micro-people do open source?

After many years of work experience, Ma Zhitao discovered the subtle relationship between large organizations and small individuals. Enterprises have a life cycle. From many cases, the company will gather risk to a certain extent and eventually decline. From the perspective of human development, if the mechanism design is unbalanced, the organization will impede the development of humanity to a certain extent. So, create opportunities to unlock the potential of every tiny individual.

Traditional banks tend to spend 80% of their energy to focus on 20% of the rich in the crowd. High net worth customers, high customer unit price business is their primary goal. The financial needs of the wider general population have not been fully met.

In 2014, he and the founding team discussed the core architecture of Weizhong Bank. At that time, faced with two choices: to be a traditional bank, using IBM, Oracle and other off-the-shelf technologies in accordance with international practice. In the short term, implementation is fast and the cost is acceptable. But in the long run, as the number of users increases, the cost will be uncontrollable; and the business will be subject to the impact of off-the-shelf technology. The second option is to build a distributed banking system with open source components. The construction path is long and technically difficult. But in the long run, it is conducive to stimulating the creativity of self and ecological partners, more imaginative.

Ma Zhitao and his partners chose the latter and built the first distributed production data center cluster of China Commercial Bank. There are no outlets, no counters, and all customer service is done online.

Today, in the past five years, the system has supported billions of transactions per day, reaching the level of state-owned large banks. Thanks to the use of open source technology and distributed architecture, by 2018, the IT operation and maintenance cost of a single account of Weizhong Bank has dropped to about 10% of that of traditional banks. Weizhong has also become the first bank in the country's private banks to have a total asset of 200 billion.


Ma Zhitao, Tang Xialing

Every journey to the Blue Ocean's deep navigation requires the New World berthing relay. The New World that Weizhong met was a blockchain technology that gradually became hot after 2015. This inspired Ma Zhitao's strong curiosity.

2. The alliance chain may be the most effective choice at the moment

At that time, the blockchain was first listed on the cover of The Economist as a "machine of trust." Global technology companies and financial institutions have entered the blockchain. In September 2015, the R3 Alliance, initiated by Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, etc., launched a product called Corda. In December 2015, the IBM-led Linux Foundation launched the HyperLedger Fabric project. The blockchain has also become the most financed sector in US venture capital in 2015.

The whirlwind of the blockchain quickly swept the country, for a time, policy blessing, giant layout, capital chasing. The blockchain has received a lot of attention.

Putting aside the noisy appearance, someone can see the underlying technology.

Blockchain technology is a decentralized, distributed architecture that is highly consistent with the underlying ideas of distributed business that Ma Zhitao envisions. The blockchain is traceable throughout the process, the data is verifiable, and the nodes are completely transparent. In the field of distributed commerce, the bottom of the thinking of Weizhong is: to believe in the power of ecological partners, relying on technical means to collaboratively create.

This sounds like a revolution in financial art.

Ma Zhitao finally concluded that the blockchain is the best technical carrier for distributed commerce .

The technology is fascinating and the market has enough imagination. But how do you start?

When laying out blockchains, they also faced a choice: First, they couldn't touch the currency because the value of the currency could not be applied to the real economy. " We believe that digitalization is the future, but against the digitization of digits. " Ma Zhitao stressed.

Second, the idea of ​​the public chain is not suitable. In their view, the public chain uses the power to achieve consensus among the infinite nodes, and the consumption of operating costs and natural resources is large. This is a problem that can never be properly solved at the technical level.

In the end, they chose the alliance chain and connected the partners through blockchain technology to achieve the value of the alliance. "This is probably the most effective option in the current stage," Ma Zhitao said.

In 2016, Weizhong Bank teamed up with more than 20 licensed financial institutions and technology companies to jointly establish the Financial Blockchain Cooperation Alliance (Shenzhen) (referred to as “Golden Chain Alliance”). Today, the number of members of the Golden Chain Alliance has exceeded 100.

From the beginning, the Golden Chain Alliance is only an association organization, and there is no unified technology platform.

Fan Ruibin, head of Weizhong Bank Blockchain, said: "We started to want to use the application, but found that there is no easy-to-use underlying platform in the market. It is like trying to develop an app, but not even Android and iOS. If you don't have it in the market, do it yourself."

But in the early industry of blockchain, there is no experience to learn from, relying on self-exploration.

Zhang Kaixiang, chief architect of Weizhong Bank Blockchain, recalled the initial "technical trio." "We have 2 'CTO's from the startup, plus me, everyone is very focused on the basic code." Once I discussed the Merkel tree, they drew a tree and many layers on the whiteboard. Leaves, three men talking late to a tree. "The joy of the programmer, the outside world does not seem to understand, but we are happy."

Nowadays, the programmer who is "in the fun" is more than 100 people in the blockchain direction. One piece of data is worth mentioning: the total number of IT staff at Micro-Banks is as high as 54%, while that of other domestic listed banks is 1%-8%.


Ma Zhitao

This kind of technical vitality, coupled with the leadership of Ma Zhitao, seems to have a leading position and a rushing posture.

Technology is used for business services. Blockchain technology can be used in various fields such as finance, traceability, supply chain, and depository. But how do multiple parties collaborate? This involves the core components of the "consensus algorithm" blockchain.

Zhang Kaixiang used vivid examples to explain the consensus mechanism to us: Simply put , POW is a workload proof mechanism, which can be understood as who will listen to who is strong, and POS, whoever has money to listen to .

But in our chain of alliances, it is democratic centralism . If there is something, everyone will vote together. In order to find the best collaboration mechanism within the alliance, only the framework and algorithm of the consensus mechanism was written for one year.

Open the road every mountain, meet the water and bridge. After more than a year of hard work, the Golden Chain Alliance Open Source Working Group launched FISCO BCOS, the underlying platform of the financial-grade alliance chain, which is now open source for free use by the entire industry.

Up to now, hundreds of companies and institutions such as Macao Science and Technology Development Fund, People's Network, and Changhong have built blockchain applications based on FISCO BCOS, and dozens of them have been put into production. The coverage of application areas has expanded from finance to cultural copyright. , judicial services, government services, Internet of Things, smart communities, public welfare, talent recruitment, game entertainment and many other scenarios.

For example, the inter-agency reconciliation platform, you use an app to transfer money to a friend. The two accounts are related to the reconciliation between two different banks and payment institutions. , low efficiency, with blockchain technology, can ensure that the books are updated in real time and correct;

In the judicial deposit system, the data is chained through blockchain technology, and the identification and certification of the judicial institutions in the alliance, the data becomes evidence, which greatly reduces the difficulty of investigation and evidence collection;

In the supply chain financial system, through the application of blockchain technology, enterprises in the upstream and downstream of the supply chain can clearly track the flow of funds, information flow and logistics, so that banks can clearly see the whole process of production and trading, greatly improving the small and medium-sized enterprises. The financing efficiency of enterprises.


3. Open source, is to make the black box transparent

The data is very good and the outlook is very promising. But open source is not the way everyone dares to go.

" People say that the blockchain is a machine for creating trust. But if it is not open source, this machine is still a black box ." Fan Ruibin said that they just want to open this black box.

He has worked in Tencent for more than 10 years. T4 expert, who was a core member of the mobile QQ startup team, has long been responsible for the construction of the entire back-end of mobile QQ. Half of the traffic of the entire Chinese mobile Internet was generated by the products of his department.

Doing open source is the most anxious period of his professional experience. I am very worried about open source, my own things are very badly ridiculed, afraid that others have doubts about the code, afraid that the team documents are not well written, and so on. "It used to be dressed in clothes. Now it's a bit like streaking." What's more, open source doesn't have a way back. When things are released, they will never be returned. They must be brave enough to accept the market test.

In fact, there is another worry: no one cares about you after open source. “The blockchain is so early, its cognitive base is weak, and the use of the crowd is small. We took a big move and threw the stones into the water, no one cares about you, it is also very shameful.”

Fortunately, none of his fears have occurred.

After the open source, the vitality of the market has been stimulated: software integrators have come, system suppliers have come, training institutions have come; smart homes have come, copyright protection has come, medical care has come; financial The company is here, the technology company is here, and there are many traditional companies that are looking forward to transforming with blockchain technology.

" If we don't open source, we can hardly find them. There are a lot of creative points that we can't think of ourselves ."

When the open source button is launched, it is like opening up a new territory of value and attracting all parties to come spontaneously. Everyone with their kindness and curiosity to inquire, observe and join their exploration. The collective creativity brought about by open source far exceeds the energy of the micro-family.

Later, based on the underlying platform of FISCO BCOS, they launched the self-developed middleware platform WeBASE, application components WeIdentity and WeEvent, and all of them are open source, making blockchain application development more efficient and convenient.


Fan Ruibin

4. Open source, not just throwing out the code

But stress and anxiety also follow.

After the code is open source, the question that is most frequently asked is: How does this combine with my application scenario?

"Although a year ago, I knew that open source was not as simple as putting the code out. I didn't expect that after a year I became a full-time customer service." Zhang Kaixiang began his career in Tencent's IT system in the customer service department. Later, he gradually became a senior technical expert in the field of multiple mobile products such as mobile QQ browser. I did not expect that the experience of doing customer service came in handy when he was doing blockchain.

Together with the team, he sorts out developer relationships by different dimensions and brings together a community of developers of thousands of people. The colleagues of the open source technical team are almost three shifts, 18 hours a day online, and if the questions in the group are not answered within half an hour, Zhang Kaixiang will feel "anxious".

Since the "customer service" has a reputation, Zhang Kaixiang has been invited to give speeches many times. “I figured out that the number of business trips in 2018 exceeded the sum of the previous five years, and the time spent on the blockchain in various public occasions exceeded 100 hours.”

But he also slowly discovered that it is not possible to go out and speak alone. In accordance with the spirit of the distributed concept, more people should be involved. As a result, he established a “potential lecturer group” in the team, and currently has nearly 20 lecturers.

They were pleasantly surprised to find that after open source, a common language system was established between the outside and the help partners, and the communication efficiency was higher. The professionalism of the internal team has also improved: "Because only good things are done to share."


The middle black shirt is Zhang Kaixiang.

5. Open source thinking: from believing in yourself to believing in others

Open source, open the technical threshold, is the psychological threshold.

This point, Zhang Kaixiang is deeply touched. It used to be technology own to hold and maintain. But in a distributed world, the system may run in another completely isolated room. The privacy information of others will not be given to you. Statistics and analysis of data, positioning and problem solving require a new model. It can only adapt to changes in the situation. Therefore, at the beginning of system design, it is necessary to fully consider various boundary conditions and be prepared to deal with all the problems that will arise next.

At the same time, the characteristics of open source technology are also challenging the way the team thinks.

In the training mode of Chinese children, the obedient baby is the most popular, and the idea centered on me is deeply rooted.

But in the bottom of open source thinking, it is no longer me, but us . The way you think is transformed into: What do you need, what can I do for you, how do we collaborate.

Li He, head of Weizhong Bank Blockchain Operation and Development, found that the thinking style of the open source community is also reflected in the details of the work. For example, each communication group created by each activity, each user connected is a group manager, can participate in every big and small decision of the community, even if it is to change the group name, is the result of community consensus.

He concluded: "The philosophy of the open source community is to believe that we believe in others. So, in our way of thinking, users earn more money than we earn ourselves."

6. Open source revenue: singularity may come soon

"So, how do you make money?" In the face of my sudden question, Ma Zhitao seems to have expected.

"Our selfishness is: the financial services that are ultimately derived. The applications that run on the underlying platform will eventually need the corresponding financial services, and fall into financial services, that is the strength of Weizhong."

In addition to financial services, the value transfer on the chain is also very imaginative. For example, copyright and IP assets, this asset involves not only cash flow, but also the transfer of other rights, which need to be supported by financial services. "Of course, we hope that Weizhong is only one of the providers of such financial services, not the only one."

"But the company is a commercial organization after all. If it doesn't make money, what should I do?" I asked .

Ma Zhitao said: "The value that a single technology can play is limited. We don't care too much about the technology investment of individual technologies, but the overall benefits. At present, this revenue turning point may come soon. In the past two years, we are building Industry influence, such as the number of cases, occupancy, etc. in the market based on our underlying technology. Therefore, the ability to set standards is so important that our technology becomes the de facto standard of the market."

In the open source map of Weizhong Bank, the blockchain is only one of the forms of “factual standards”. Today, the “ABCD” four strategic segments of Weizhong Bank Financial Technology (AI-Artificial Intelligence; Blockchain-Blockchain; Cloud Computing-Cloud Computing; Big Data-Big Data) have been fully open sourced.

Ma Zhitao explained : "AI solves the problem of performance, and some artificial humans are unwilling to undertake the work to solve artificial intelligence; cloud computing can reduce the computational cost and achieve the magnitude jump of data; big data, the realization of data collection and Mining. Blockchain is particularly difficult, it is the bottom layer, positioning to connect, link partners, link everything, very imaginative."

At work, Ma Zhitao has positioned himself as a "coach" and hopes to use his experience to help young people grow. In the industry, he hopes that he is a "prophet", seeing the energy of more tiny individuals being stimulated, seeing the supporters of the geek world gather together to become more powerful, and seeing a distributed business landscape slowly unfolding.

"I want to tell you that open source can go this way. Small is big, and micro is public."


"Lingying Blockchain" is the first blockchain business observation column of the whole network. It is edited by Babbitt. Chinese journalism winner Tang Xialing and the team have built a heavy team to talk about industry figures, focus on key topics, and keep a copy of the blockchain. Historical draft.


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