China-based technology giant Baidu has announced the development of a new technology called Super Chain which it says is an energy-efficient blockchain protocol. In general, Baidu has been embracing and experimenting with blockchain technology. This news may indicate that Baidu is looking to release its own cryptocurrency.
Baidu is essentially the Chinese version of Google, and 76% of Chinese internet searches occur through Baidu’s platform. It has a stock market cap of USD 99 billion and is the first Chinese company to be included on the NASDAQ-100 index. Baidu has net income of CNY 18.3 billion (USD 2.85 billion), a little less than Google’s income of over USD 10 billion USD per year but still significant.
Super Chain is supposed to allow the easy addition and removal of consensus mechanisms from its blockchain. For Bitcoin and Ethereum, it is very difficult to change consensus mechanisms, since that requires a hard fork which can be quite disruptive.
According to Baidu, easy modification of consensus mechanisms can help solve the cryptocurrency mining energy problem. Currently, Bitcoin mining uses 70 TWh annually, 0.3% of all electricity usage in the world, and equivalent to the annual electricity usage of Chile. Bitcoin hash rate and electricity usage are rising exponentially long term, and is seen by some as negative for the environment or electricity prices if this trend is left unchecked.
Baidu says Super Chain will be able to process 100,000 transactions per second, far exceeding the theoretical maximu of 10 transactions per second that Bitcoin can process. The Bitcoin Lightning Network has been developed to possibly handle 100,000 transactions per second or possibly millions and billions, but this has yet to be realized and the technology is experimental at this point.
Although there weren’t many details included in Baidu’s Super Chain announcement, it is a strong indicator that it may be about to release its own cryptocurrency and could herald the beginning of other mega corporations developing their own cryptocurrencies.
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