Chinese search giant Baidu has launched a public blockchain network designed to allow small companies to inexpensively launch and run decentralized apps, according to local reports.
Monday’s announcement of the public beta launch of the Baidu Xuperchain blockchain follows President Xi Jinping’s October call to make China the world leader in blockchain.
Xuperchain is a “blockchain basic service” for small- to medium-size businesses and developers who want to rapidly deploy and operate blockchain DApps, according to a report in iFeng Finance.
Deploying a medium-sized DApp on Xuperchain will cost about 7,000 yuan a year (roughly $1,000). That is about one seventh of the cost a competing blockchain-as-a-service provider would charge, the report added. Baidu’s goal, the article said, is to lower high barriers to getting a blockchain application up and running
Along with low cost, Baidu said Xuperchain’s advantages include “autonomous security,” rapid verification, and the capability of handling 10,000 transactions per second.
The report offers no details on a Xuperchain token or cryptocurrency.
In a whitepaper (Chinese language) published in September, Baidu said it planned to apply Xuperchain technology and six decentralized applications to various sectors including food safety, product quality, retail, manufacturing, supply, and social networking.
Xuperchain’s open network complies with Chinese regulation and relies on a series of masternodes throughout the country, the report said. The use of masternodes—generally designed to provide advanced services and governance on a blockchain—imply the network is not completely decentralized.
So far, Baidu Xuperchain relies on a network of seven supernodes, including those run by Tsinghua University, streaming company iQiyi, and other “authoritative institutions.”
That ties into China’s stated determination to retain centralized control of blockchain technology while still touting its decentralized nature. It is similar to how the government’s planned central bank digital yuan is going to be “controllably anonymous.”
The underlying open source code for the Baidu Xuperchain blockchain is available on GitHub. Xuperchain also has its own block explorer for viewing transactions on the network.