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JD.com announces new initiative to bolster blockchain and AI development

Chinese retail giant JD.com has announced the launch of a new accelerator for the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies.

A part of JD’s AI program, AI Catapult will be partnering with blockchain startups to build new businesses and create and test real-world applications of their technologies at scale, starting next month. Participating startups will get an opportunity to work with a wide variety of operational teams within JD.

According to the official release, AI Catapult will be based in Beijing and will begin with an inaugural roster of companies including Chinese fintech pioneer, Bankorous; Australia’s cryptocurrency leader CanYa; Bluezelle, the blockchain-powered database service based in Singapore; London-based Nuggets, the e-commerce payments and ID platform built on blockchain; and Devery, a blockchain powered, open-source, product verification protocol. The participating companies will benefit from JD’s and each other’s expertise and will have an opportunity to implement their cutting-edge technologies across JD’s various business functions.

“JD is in a unique position to explore the potential of AI and blockchain in global commerce,” said Bowen Zhou, Vice President of JD.com’s AI Platform and Research Division. “We are excited to work with some of the world’s most innovative startups to explore ways we can scale these cutting edge technologies for the future of retail and other industries, as well.”

JD said that the new accelerator will also help its AI research division to find new ways to use AI to improve blockchain technology, with a particular focus in areas including scalability, security, privacy, efficiency and energy consumption that will bring business as well as social impact benefits. JD also plans to invest in the growth of the AI and blockchain ecosystem through future commercial, strategic and research partnerships.

JD is already participating in blockchain initiatives in the area of supply chains and product safety. In December 2017, the e-commerce giant, together with IBM, Walmart, and Tsinghua University National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technologies, announced a Blockchain Food Safety Alliance in China.

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