Fintech and blockchain developer Ant Financial, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has been ranked the fifth most valuable private firm in China.

In an inaugural rankings report by Hurun, which is best known for compiling a rich list for China, Ant Financial is the top firm in its field and fifth largest in a ranking of all firms across industries.

Published on Jan. 9, the report reveals that Ant Financial has hit a market valuation of $143 billion, based on a closing price from Nov. 29, 2019. 

Alibaba ranked top of all private enterprises in the country, at a valuation of $545 billion, followed by WeChat operator Tencent Holdings, at $408 billion, and Ping An Insurance, at $215 billion.

Huawei, which has faced sanctions from the Trump administration and continues to come under pressure from the United States’ allegations it poses a threat to its national security, was ranked fourth at $172 billion.

Alibaba, Ant Financial and the blockchain

Notably, both China’s most valuable private firm, Alibaba, and its financial affiliate Ant Financial, have a strong involvement in the blockchain industry: in 2018 Alibaba had vied with IBM the top spot on a list ranking global entities by the number of blockchain-related patents filed to date.

Ant Financial, for its part, is poised to release an enterprise-focused “Ant Blockchain Open Alliance” platform this month, which aims to enable small-scale and micro-enterprises and developers to enter the industry at a lower cost.

It has previously launched a blockchain-as-a-service platform, having trialed its first-ever blockchain remittances in the summer of 2018, using its new blockchain-based electronic wallet cross border remittance service.

Top 10 firms have seen an eightfold rise in value over the last decade

The Hurun report is testament to the extraordinary growth of China’s private sector, revealing that the top 10 private enterprises in China now have a total valuation of $1.8 trillion, as compared with $700 billion five years ago and $215 billion a decade back.

As the Alibaba-owned English-language newspaper South China Morning Post (SCMP) notes in a report on Harun’s data, Alibaba — were it categorized as an economic entity by the IMF — would be ranked as the 10th largest gross domestic product globally, outstripping Canada. 

After four decades of liberalizing market reforms under the banner of “Socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the private sector now contributes half of the nation’s tax revenue and supplies 80% of its job, SCMP writes.

The paper further revealed that the Chinese central government pledged to “forge a better environment to support private businesses” in a 28-point plan released on Dec. 22 2019.

A technology arms race

On Jan. 8, Cointelegraph reported that China’s nationwide blockchain network, the Blockchain-based Ser­vice Net­work, will launch in April 2020, six months after it was rolled out for testing.

Development of a government-backed digital currency at the People’s Bank of China is progressing smoothly, according to the latest update from the central bank.

Both projects attest to the breadth and depth of the state’s commitment to blockchain development, as endorsed by President Xi Jinping at a Politburo Committee session in late October last year.

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