JD.com is launching an accelerator program to unlock the “transformative potential of startups demonstrating cutting edge talent in the blockchain space.”
JD.com is a Chinese e-commerce company headquartered in Beijing. It is one of the two largest B2C online retailers in China by transaction volume and revenue. It is a member of the Fortune Global 500 and a major competitor to Alibaba-run Tmall. As of September 2017, the platform has 266.3 million active users.
Called AI Catapult (AICA), the program’s first batch includes six companies: Bankorus, CanYa, Bluezelle, Nuggets, Republic Protocol and Devery. The startups will work with JD.com’s operational teams to “test real-world applications of their technologies at scale.” This includes its logistics unit, which recently raised $2.5 billion and claims to run the largest last-mile logistics network in China.
JD.com said the program will start with a signing ceremony in New York, where the company is traded, and then the first cohort will be guided through the six-month international accelerator program from March 2018. Among other benefits, the companies in the program will allegedly receive marketing, public relations (PR), and international business development help from JD.com.
The announcement did not deal with the possibility of cryptocurrency issues. China has been cracking down on all aspects of trading in digital currency and has also been wary of foreign investments by its companies, preferring to focus on its own infrastructure.
“Whole-process traceability is not a new concept, but blockchain makes it really possible,” said Yongli Yu, president of JD’s supply chain research unit. “Throughout the world, and particularly in China, consumers increasingly want to know how their products are sourced, and JD is dedicated to using technology to promote complete transparency.”
Provenance, particularly for food items, has been a major issue in China for some time. Some China-sourced food items, like pet food, have been banned in the US because of concerns over their origins and contents.
Devery, a global blockchain startup that provides verification solutions, said the collaboration within the accelerator allows both parties to work more closely together to deliver more streamlined solutions to Devery’s current ventures in developing countries and its commercial partnerships in the supply chain industry.
“Supply-chain tracking and identity management are fundamental use cases of the blockchain,” said Andrew Rasheed, CEO of Devery. “We are excited and honoured to be chosen by JD.com to research and develop this ground-breaking technology. It will significantly change how supply-chains are managed and will bring greater transparency to the movement of produce and goods all over the world. This is the next big step in bringing safer and more ethical products to consumers.”
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