OK Group, the operator of cryptocurrency exchange OKEx, said it would set up a digital asset trading laboratory in Sanya, the southernmost city on Hainan Island, China, reported Xinhua News.
The company announced at the opening ceremony of Hainan International Offshore And Entrepreneurship Demonstration Zone that it will set up a blockchain offshore digital assets trading lab in the pilot zone of Sanya, as well as an Asia-pacific headquarter which will include a blockchain big data research institution and an international blockchain entrepreneurship base to accelerate the development of blockchain technology and industrial innovation.
Founded in Beijing in 2013, the company has developed into a global group specialized in blockchain R&D and industrialization, with branches and offices in countries including the U.S., Europe, South Korea, Japan, etc.
“We believe that Hainan Offshore Innovation and Entrepreneurship Demonstration Zone has broad prospects and could help Hainan enter the international market.” Said the group’s founder Star Xu in an interview with state-run CCTV.
Hainan, an island province known as “China’s Hawaii”, has been trying hard to transforming the resort island into a digital economic leader.
In 2018, the southernmost province was designated as China’s 12th free-trade zone by the country’s president Xi Jinping. As the largest of the 12 free trade zones in the country, Hainan has been luring investors and businesses with the promise of loosened restrictions. It is also expected to have the world’s largest international seaport by 2025 at 34,000 sq km, bigger than Hong Kong, Singapore or Dubai.
Since then, Hainan has set an ambitious goal to become the country’s southern hub for technological innovation and positioned itself as a digital-friendly haven for entrepreneurs. According to the search result from domestic company information search engine Tianyancha, there have been more than 1,000 blockchain-related companies in Hainan; Since the second half of 2017, there have been nearly 100 blockchain conferences held in the province.
Sensing the local government’s welcome for high-tech industry including the blockchain sector, in 2018, cryptocurrency exchange Huobi initiated a $1 billion blockchain fund in Hainan and later moved the headquarter of its Chinese branch as well as its global operating center there, becoming the first leading blockchain company to locate its headquarter in Hainan.
Following its rival Huobi joining government-led blockchain alliance, the cooperation with the Sanya demonstration zone is OK’s latest effort in response to Xi’s call for greater blockchain adoption. On the same day at the opening ceremony of the demonstration zone, Wang Lu, the vice governor of Hainan, said that they hope the region could develop into a pilot for digital asset trading.