Even though China takes a hard stance on cryptocurrencies, the blockchain revolution is flourishing in the second largest economy of the world.
E-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com are now experimenting with blockchain technology, even though Beijing has banned bitcoin mining, crypto exchanges and ICOs. The logistics arms of Alibaba, Cainiao Global has already started to use blockchain for verifying logistical information.
Its business-to-consumer unit Tmall is quickly adopting blockchains too. They are using it to track and upload information for all products, especially those imported by Tmall. With the help of new blockchain tech, customers will get transparent data on their products. Every piece of data, collected right from manufacturing to transportation, clearance and customs and even third-party inspections will now be available to the customers.
A Cainiao Global official said, “The most important feature of the blockchain lies in that the uploaded data cannot be tampered with. Through the logistics data uploaded by businesses, customs and other parties, consumers can cross-certify the various information they purchase.”
The company states that over 30,000 imported goods from over 50 countries are being monitored over their blockchain framework. Most important ports covered in this project include Shanghai and Shenzhen. Other big ports like Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Tianjin are also included. These records will help the company level up its logistics and provide fully transparent information to its customers.
JD.com isn’t far behind on this tech. yesterday, the company said that they are launching a new accelerator called AI Catapult that will support blockchain and artificial intelligence-based start-ups. The accelerator is based in Beijing and expects to host several start-ups that will work closely with the JD.com operational team. All the start-ups will be working to introduce blockchain and artificial intelligence to JD.com’s businesses.
The inaugural roster of the accelerator includes many promising names. The first is Bankorous, a Chinese fintech company. Nuggets, a London-based e-commerce blockchain ID and payments system and Australian cryptocurrency CanYa are a part of the roster. Other interesting names include Bluezelle, a blockchain based database service and Devery, an open-source project verification protocol based off blockchains.
The e-commerce retail company has already partnered with Walmart, IBM and Tsinghua University. Last December, it launched the ‘Blockchain Food Safety Alliance’ along with its partners to help improve the food tracking system in China and make it safer. It is already running a AI research lab in partnership with the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, called SAIL JD AI Research Institute.
JD.com and Alibaba are not the first e-commerce/retail firms to flirt with blockchains. Walmart has been using blockchain tech for pork product logistics, to help recall the products if they ever get contaminated before they reach the shelves.
Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce company is launching its own cryptocurrency called the Rakuten Coin. It will be built on their Rakuten Super Points loyalty programs and help get international orders by cutting currency exchange fee.
While Japan is positive on cryptocurrencies, China isn’t thrilled about their use. However, blockchains are still one of the hottest tech in the market, intriguing industry giants.