" Although the news of the blockchain application has been continuous, but the reality is not optimistic, " this is the biggest feeling of Babbitt reporters interviewing Li Feng.
Li Feng is the head of the small chain block laboratory in Xiaoman . Since Baidu Finance split from Baidu in April 2018, Baidu Finance has achieved independent operation as a brand new brand “Full Financial”. The Baidu Financial Blockchain Lab, the first blockchain team in the Baidu system, was also split and renamed the “Xiaoxiaoman Blockchain Lab” (the Baidu search again established Baidu District). Blockchain laboratory").
Since then, Li Feng has been responsible for the exploration and landing of the Xiaoman blockchain.
In the past year, under the leadership of Li Feng, the Xiaoman blockchain team completed the construction of the Baas service platform, the construction of the Paan platform for the Xiaomang public chain and the application platform for the Xiaomanlian chain, including ABS, consumer finance, Leitz dog, "oasis", public welfare, traceability, digital assetization and other blockchain applications, and in December 2018 launched its most valuable reference blockchain white paper – "Xiao Xiaoman Financial Block Chain Research and Application White Paper .
In this interview, we did not talk about technology, did not talk about the vision, but reviewed the development history of the blockchain team in the Xiaoman block in the past year: what achievements have they achieved, what difficulties they have encountered, and how to face the outside world. And what is the plan for the future .
Baidu Financial Blockchain: Bottom-up innovation, top-down promotion
Baidu's exploration of blockchain technology began in 2015, when Baidu's internal departments were discussing blockchains, thus forming an offline interest group . Until the end of 2016, Baidu officially formed the blockchain team–"Baidu Financial Blockchain Lab".
"In an Internet company, doing anything like setting up a new department or doing a new business must be well-known." Li Feng said, "The first thing to do is to determine the effect or goal you want to achieve, and then the company will provide resources. The exploration of blockchain technology in the financial field, we want to create a leader , and the realization of blockchain technology in ABS (asset securitization) is the first goal."
ABS refers to the packaging of assets that lack liquidity but have predictable income, and sell them by issuing securities in the capital market to maximize the liquidity of assets. The traditional ABS management model has problems such as ABS asset information asymmetry, which makes the ABS participants distrust each other.
At that time, the Baidu Financial Blockchain team developed the Trust enterprise-level blockchain solution, which allowed ABS participants to participate in accounting, storage and transmission in the form of a coalition chain to achieve real-time reliability of the data on the chain.
In May and August of 2017, Baidu Financial and related partners issued the first publicly-recognized ABS project based on blockchain technology and the ABS project of the Exchange . During the period (July), the Baidu BaaS platform was launched, providing services based on blockchain technology for enterprises.
By the end of 2017, a network of cats and breeding games based on Ethereum's cat breeding game “CryptoKitties” was popular, and it caused congestion in the Ethereum network.
At this point, Baidu has the idea of doing blockchain games. On the one hand, it sees the fieryness of CryptoKitties, on the other hand, it considers that blockchain games can be used as a business card, and this kind of visualized things are traditional. Industry promotion blockchain business.
So, a development team of about 10 people, an office, staying up all night, "996 is nothing." In just one month, Baidu developed the first public-chain game application of Baidu – " Leitz Dog " (February 2018).
Although the "Litz Dog" seems simple, there are very big technical challenges behind it . Li Feng said:
"The use of blockchain technology, on the one hand is a distributed problem, on the other hand is the problem of data consistency. The database industry has developed for decades, if you follow the traditional system development model, there is no such The problem. But if you use the blockchain to do the same thing, then these problems must be solved, and the technical challenges are very large."
Because of the development of "Leitz Dog", Baidu Financial Blockchain team has accumulated rich experience in public chain development, which also laid the foundation for the cooperation with Baidu Cloud.
In April 2018, Baidu launched the original photo service platform " Totem " based on blockchain technology.
In May 2018, Baidu Financial Blockchain Lab was split with Baidu Finance and renamed as “Xiaoxiaoman Blockchain Lab”. In the same month, the blockchain identity system (DID) “ Oasis ” was launched, and Xiaoman Finance and Baidu Cloud launched the first Ethereum cloud service in China .
Because of the clear goals and strong technical strength , the Xiaoman blockchain team did not encounter any insurmountable difficulties during this period until it was combined with the medical business.
"Blockchain + Finance": Historical baggage that can't shake off
After completing the "Totem", "Oasis", digital content copyright and other projects, the Xiaoman blockchain team also cooperated with a number of Baidu internal teams. Although there are not many projects on the ground, every attempt makes them The understanding of the blockchain is deeper.
Take " blockchain + medical " as an example. At that time, the Xiaoman blockchain team tried to open medical data with Baidu Huaying team, but it eventually failed. Li Feng found that
"Medical data is very sensitive, not wanting to exchange (data) problems, but can't be exchanged. The natural medical scene is without trust, your case data can't be directly exchanged from this hospital to another hospital, so you go There is a tube of blood here, and I have to take a tube there. What we can do is to get through the prescription (what medicine is open), but the value of this data is not as big as the case."
Since then, Li Feng has slowly felt that the promotion of the blockchain business has not been smooth before , especially the “ blockchain+finance ”.
Unlike the initial ABS top-down approach, most of the financial business behind it was promoted by the small blockchain team. This process is extremely difficult , Li Feng said frankly:
“It started with the internal financial business. We usually carry the plan in the past. According to our understanding of your business, what are the potential combinations, what potential benefits will be brought about, and how to carry out the transformation. The business team said , 'What can you bring to me', 'I don't think your things are important to me', 'I don't care about this now.' These questions are difficult to answer."
Internally, the outside is even worse. There are two main difficulties in communication with the outside world : First, it is difficult to explain the blockchain. "About two hours of business, maybe one and a half hours is explaining what is the blockchain, and then I have not understood it." As far as financial business is concerned, "they will have very big concerns, and people are not willing to let you fall."
Before Baidu Finance established the blockchain team, Li Feng worked on the technical aspects of the credit business system and knew the complexity of the financial system. He said:
“ Traditional financial business has its own set of rules and regulations. You can't change it easily, or you can't change it . On the one hand, it involves supervision. On the other hand, finance has a history of hundreds of years. You will see a financial business clearly. Straight line, but why is it bent away? Because it has very complicated historical reasons behind it, or it is called baggage ."
In the business communication with many foreign financial institutions, Li Feng felt that in theory, blockchain and finance do have a good combination, but the reality is not the same thing, he said:
"The blockchain is a brand new thing, and then under the banner of subversive change, they will instinctively resist. For example, we want to combine blockchain and savings, he will ask you ' what can you bring me '. Using the blockchain for distributed storage to prevent the centralized system from hanging up? He said that it will not hang, because it has been running for decades, there is no such problem. Simplify the process? He said that this process took decades. Can't be simplified."
So, does this mean that blockchain technology has nothing to do in the financial sector? In fact, it is not so pessimistic. Li Feng believes that although the blockchain at this stage is difficult to integrate with the core business of finance, non-core financial services such as supply chain finance and ABS are feasible, and the other is innovative financial business . As shown below.
Challenges and future plans from the outside world
At the blockchain information service filing technical exchange meeting held in Shanghai on March 8th, the Babbit reporter met an old man with a good shape and a pair of white hair. He has done more than 20 years of agricultural business. Occasionally, we talked about the security of the pass, and also talked about the traceability of the blockchain .
The old man said that he is not optimistic about "blockchain + traceability", nor is it optimistic that Internet giants can make a difference in the blockchain field because they are technology companies and lack the genes for doing business (lack of business experts) . He believes that the giants do "blockchain +" is " tossing with a big knife everywhere, but let him grind ten knives, he can't do it ", which is why they can't do it on the Industrial Internet.
In an interview with Li Feng, the Babbit reporter raised the same question: Is the Internet giant exploring the blockchain application “ putting a hammer to find a nail”?
Li Feng replied:
"The blockchain itself is an exploratory thing, without the experience of the predecessors. Do you think the blockchain is a good hammer? The blockchain is not a good hammer now, but now there is only this thing, no way. Small companies do blockchain, you have to make a profit; big companies must first tell the boss the story, reflecting the value of the blockchain. The so-called 'holding a hammer to find a nail' is just one reason. In fact, now the blockchain and The combination of scenes is very difficult."
So, compared to Ali, Tencent, Baidu's degree Xiaoman can run a new track in the blockchain field in the future? Li Feng said,
"It is still impossible to judge that the blockchain has high requirements for technology. This is our advantage. At present, some directions are being tried. As for whether it can be big or not, this is really uncertain and very difficult. I am particularly optimistic. Internet of Things , it will be the next hotspot after the mobile Internet, AR, 3D printing, AI, blockchain can not be called an industry alone, the real big stage is the Internet of Things."
Recalling the past exploration of the small block in the field of blockchain, Li Feng felt that "it is not easy, very tired", this "tired" is not the "tired" in technology research and development, but trying to link the blockchain with the traditional business. "Tired" .
"From the very beginning, the team is full of confidence, and after encountering many practical problems, the gap between reality and expectation, will you feel disappointed?" asked the Babbit reporter.
Li Feng is very humorous. He said: "Disappointment, disappointment is hope, and still anxious, hair is white ."
When asked about the future plans of the Xiaoman blockchain team , Li Feng said:
"One is Q1 (first quarter) to carry out resumption and reflection, think about what was done last year, what did not do well, to determine a direction; the second is to do some landing work in the B2B field, that is, to explore the alliance The landing scene of the chain."