Chinese e-commerce company JD.com, a member of the Fortune Global 500 headquartered in Beijing, is launching AI Catapult Accelerator (AICA), an accelerator program designed to unlock the transformative potential of startups demonstrating cutting-edge talent in the blockchain space.
JD.com is one of the two largest business-to-consumer (B2C) online retailers in China by transaction volume and revenue, and a major competitor to Alibaba-run Tmall. As of September 2017, JD.com’s platform, often referred to as the “eBay of China,” had more than 266 million active users, with a revenue of close to $50 billion. JD considers blockchain technology and its integration into mainstream use as the key to a new age of cost effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
“Whole-process traceability is not a new concept but blockchain makes it really possible,” Yongli Yu, president of JD’s supply chain research unit, said in conversation with Bitcoin Magazine. “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.”
Six blockchain technology companies — CanYa, Bluzelle, Nuggets, Republic Protocol, Devery and Bankorus — have been chosen as members of the AICA accelerator’s first cohort. The program will start with a signing ceremony in New York, where JD 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 AICA accelerator program will receive marketing, PR and international business development help from JD.com.
CanYa, a blockchain-powered marketplace of peer-to-peer services that helps people find, book and pay for digital and home services, is one of the first members of the AICA accelerator program. The company strives to “accelerate the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency by providing a meaningful reason to spend cryptocurrencies on services.” According to its white paper, CanYa wants to be “the ultimate link between cryptocurrency and the real world.”
The CanYaCoin (CAN), an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain, can be exchanged in the platform and converted to real-world skilled labour. The token provides the CanYa marketplace with a decentralized, trustless and hedged escrow service; a bridge between fiat and a variety of cryptocurrencies; a rewards system to encourage network effects; and incentives for user curation and arbitration.
The CanYa apps will be translated into Chinese, integrated with the JD platform and promoted to JD’s customers with a “CanYa Widget” for JD buyers to hire a local CanYa service provider to help with their purchases. For example, someone buying furniture could book a CanYa provider at checkout to assemble and install it in their home.
“This is a validation of CanYa’s business model and global disruptive potential,” said CanYa co-founder and CEO John-Paul Thorbjornsen in a company statement. “JD is one of the most significant technology companies in the world, to have their full support and backing is huge for our platform and the acceleration of blockchain technology.”
“JD.com is a global leader in making a meaningful change in the lives of consumers, and we are incredibly excited to see them embrace decentralized technologies and encourage their mainstream adoption,” added Thorbjornsen in conversation with Bitcoin Magazine. “By creating a blockchain accelerator and working with blockchain startups with potential, JD is cutting through the hype and providing support where it is needed most right now: shipping technology to millions of users globally.”