JD.com, China’s Largest Retailer, Launches a New Blockchain Research Lab

On Tuesday (30 October 2018), JD.com, China's largest retailer, announced it was launching, in collaboration with the Ying Wu College of Computing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS), a new blockchain technology research lab.

Beijing-headquartered JD.com, Inc. (Chinese: 京东; pinyin: Jīngdōng) says that it sells "everything from imported seafood to household goods and luxury watches to hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers. CEO Liu Qiangdong (also known as Richard Liu) founded the company in June/July 1998 (with the retail platform going online in 2004) "as a tiny offline electronics store." Today, it is reportedly the third-largest internet company in the world (after Amazon and Alphabet), with a 2017 revenue of $55.7 billion.

The founder's vision was to provide consumers all over China, including less developed regions, with access to authentic high quality products  Since China did not have adequate logistics and retail infrastructure when Liu started the business, he decided to "build his own network from the ground up", and that network now "covers 99% of China's population." 

Currently, the company has over 150,000 employees, including thousands of engineers and scientists who are working on state-of-the-art technologies such as AI, robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles.

The joint lab, which that was announced yesterday in Beijing will "focus on solving efficiency and stability challenges that are the most significant bottlenecks restricting the wider application of blockchain, and explore new applications of the technology." A few examples of the lab's research interests are "fundamental consensus protocols, privacy protection and security in decentralized applications." The lab will operate under the direction of Dr. Jian Pei, the president of JD Big Data and Smart Supply Chain, Dr. Qiang Tang, assistant professor in the Ying Wu College of Computing at NJIT, and Dr. Zhenfeng Zhang, vice chief engineer at ISCAS. 

Dr. Pei said:

“JD.com is a pioneer in the utilization of blockchain technology, and we are dedicated to exploring its potential by investing in the growth of the blockchain ecosystem through key strategic and research partnerships. Our partnership with NJIT and ISCAS will leverage our respective strengths and resources to drive the continued development of this cutting-edge technology and its wider deployment across many industries. With more than 300 million customers, JD.com recognizes the pivotal role being played by blockchain in improving transparency in the supply chain and delivering greater peace of mind to Chinese consumers about product quality and safety."

Dr. Joel S. Bloom, the president of NJIT, stated:

"NJIT is delighted to partner with one the leading e-commerce companies in the world and one of China’s premier research labs to work on cutting edge-blockchain and cybersecurity technologies. Working with strong international partners is a clear recipe for success in this endeavor. We look forward to working with JD and ISCAS to develop many different blockchain applications for a wide range of industries."

And finally, Zhong Hua, the deputy director of the ISCAS, said: “Through this partnership we will bring about blockchain innovation and promote industrial applications of blockchain technology.”

On 17 August 2018, JD launched JD Blockchain Open Platform, "a new blockchain technology platform to help enterprise customers build, host and use their own blockchain applications for more secure, transparent and convenient operations management." This platform is "built on multiple underlying technologies, and enables customers to create and adjust smart contracts on public and private enterprise clouds with ease." It is hoped that this technology" can help companies streamline operational procedures such as tracking and tracing the movement of goods and charity donations, authenticity certification, property assessment, transaction settlements, digital copyrights, and enhance productivity."

Featured Image Courtesy of JD.com