China’s fintech giant Ant Financial has partnered with German pharmaceuticals company Bayer Crop Science in a project that intends to put agriculture on the blockchain. The two firms signed a letter of intent during the Apsara Conference which is being held in Hangzhou, China. The partnership will seek to develop a blockchain-powered system for the tracing of agricultural products.
The use of blockchain in agriculture has continued to grow, with provenance solutions enabling consumers to trace the source of their foods. Ant Financial intends on becoming part of this movement, with the proposed system promising to improve efficiency in the agriculture industry, boost farmer income and ensure the highest quality of food products in the market.
In a statement sent to Ledger Insights, the vice president of Ant’s Intelligent Technology Group stated, “We are excited to join hands with Bayer Crop Science to explore the application of blockchain technology in agriculture. Agriculture is the foundation of human civilization. Together with Bayer, our exploration of blockchain in agriculture will improve the transparency and responsiveness of its supply chain, and bring more value to consumers, farmers and the society.”
While it’s mostly renowned as a pharmaceuticals company, Bayer is also a big player in the crop industry, with its crop science division acquiring American agrochemicals firm Monsanto in 2018. The partnership is strategic for Bayer, especially since its crop science division has a strong presence in China where it offers such services as advanced crop solutions, digital farming technologies and safety training.
Weidong Huang, the head of Bayer’s Crop Science division in the Greater China region commented, “By working side by side, we strive to assist the agriculture industry on its transformation in the new era, enhance the application of advanced agricultural technologies, increase agriculture production efficiency, improve farmer’s income, and protect food safety.”
Ant Financial, which is valued at $150 billion making it one of the world largest fintech companies, has been a pioneer in blockchain applications. The company, which runs mobile payment service Alipay, announced last year that it had secured $14 billion to invest in blockchain and other emerging technology.
Ant’s blockchain systems have been applied in supply chain, with its subsidiary Ant Shuglian Technology developing a blockchain-powered invoice financing platform earlier this year. Ant also partnered with Philippines-based GCash mobile wallet and Standard Chartered bank on a blockchain-based remittance app. Other sectors where Ant’s blockchain solutions have a presence include insurance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals and rice traceability.