IBM, UnionPay to Launch Blockchain-Based Rewards Platform

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IBM and UnionPay, China’s transfer, settlement and clearing network, have created a client-focused business platform on which banks can integrate and share reward points programs.

The project is built on IBM Blockchain, which uses permissioned blockchain technology provided by Hyperledger and will therefore be able to integrate offline channels with intelligent point-of-service devices — like supermarkets and shopping malls — into the network, according to a Sept. 23 news release. When the project goes live, consumers will be able to purchase goods with points from flight mileage, mobile phone bills, gas cards and food and beverage purchases.

"This is a new business breakthrough and an innovation milestone for the electronic payment business,” He Shuo, director of the China UnionPay E-payment Research Institute, said in the release. “The successful exchange of bonus points among banks will finally be possible using blockchain technology. Blockchain embeds trust into transactions. This along with similar innovations underway using blockchain will positively change the future of the finance industry.”

Hyperledger is a consortium of more than a dozen banking and technology companies, including IBM, working to advance blockchain technology for recording and verifying transactions across multiple industries – unlike many of its peers who are more focused more narrowly on financial services. Its technology is designed for more general purposes, where all details of a trade are shared with all members of the network.

The pilot program was completed successfully, IBM and China UnionPay E-payment Research Institute said in a joint announcement at Shanghai International Blockchain Week, a week-long blockchain conference. They have not indicated when the initiative will go live.

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