UPDATED 10:21 EDT / AUGUST 17 2018

EMERGING TECH

Chinese retailer JD.com launches e-commerce blockchain platform for business and enterprise

Chinese retail giant JD.com Inc. announced today that the company is launching a new distributed ledger blockchain technology platform aimed at enterprise customers to help them build, host and use their own blockchain applications.

The platform, known as the JD Blockchain Open Platform, is designed so that enterprise customers can easily create and adjust smart contracts running on public and private clouds.

Blockchains are a highly distributed, tamperproof ledger technology that uses cryptography and peer-to-peer consensus to secure an auditable history of transactions. Using this capability, JD.com’s platform would allow companies to streamline data management and operations such as tracking the movement of goods, charity donations, authenticity certification, property assignment, transaction settlements, digital copyrights and more.

“JD Blockchain Open Platform is a culmination of the expertise and experience in blockchain technology that we initially developed for our own operations, to provide more visibility to consumers,” said Jian Pei, head of big data and smart supply chain at JD.com.

The JD Blockchain Open Platform operates as a service accessible to enterprise customers and is designed with the concept of “one-click deployment” in mind. Applications, tools and software for the platform are developed in-house by independent software vendors and vetted by JD.com, which can then be implemented by enterprise users without the need for expert knowledge in blockchain or development.

As part of the announcement, JD.com also said the company’s first partner to use the new platform is China Pacific Insurance Co., which has used the platform to deploy a system to trace e-invoices, or “fapiao,” the official receipts required in China for businesses.

CPIC uses the system to reduce paperwork by applying a unique blockchain ID to each document. Thus, it increases the efficiency of the accounting process by reducing human error and providing a trustworthy, auditable historical trail to help reduce fraud.

In 2017, JD.com joined IBM Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and others in forming the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance, a group tasked with helping secure food shipment within China and between its trading partners to enhance food safety.

In the company’s press release, JD.com said the company has implemented blockchain tracing for more than 400 brands and 11,000 stock keeping units on the JD.com e-commerce site.

Blockchain technology has been deployed in numerous industries that require enhanced tracking and audit capabilities for complex or numerous transactions. Walmart and IBM began testing the supply chain blockchain that became part of the food safety platform above in 2016. A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, FedEx Corp., Marine Transport International USA LLC and port management companies in Singapore have all launched trials using blockchain technology to enhance supply chain tracking.

As a company, JD.com is no stranger to adopting emerging technology. In November 2016, itlaunched the world’s first consumer goods drone delivery trial. Since then the fleet has expanded to 40 drones and can deliver small packages to remote areas of China.

As a separate activity related to blockchain technology, the retailer also intends to work with software companies and cryptographic certificate authorities in China and internationally to explore how blockchains can be used in business, including enterprise resource planning and management.

Image: JD.com

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