China’s Top Retailer Launches Startup Incubator To Lure Foreign Blockchain Projects

China’s largest online and brick and mortar retailer announced the first four startups for its Al Catapult Blockchain incubation program in a press release[1] published Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The Beijing-based program, which has seen candidates from as far afield as Australia[2] and the UK, aims to use the company’s vast Chinese[3] infrastructure to arrive at new applications of Blockchain[4] and artificial intelligence[5] (AI), according to the press release.

JD highlights its plans to “partner with innovative blockchain startups to build new businesses and create and test real-world applications of their technologies at scale.”

JD is in a unique position to explore the potential of AI and blockchain in global commerce,” Bowen Zhou, vice president of the company’s AI Platform and Research Division commented as part of the release.

“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.”

The startups on board include Australia’s Blockchain-powered services marketplace CanYa and UK payments and ID platform Nuggets.

The opening of Al Catapult marks not only JD’s newest foray into Blockchain following partnerships from its various subsidiaries such as JD Finance[6], but also the increasing competition for its ultimate application in the Chinese domestic market[7].

Fellow Chinese conglomerates Tencent[8] and Baidu[9] have similarly established firm interaction with the emerging technology.

Qtum Launches ‘First Ever’ Blockchain Node Into Space

Qtum, a Blockchain project focused on Decentralized Applications[1] (DApps), announced on Twitter[2] Friday, Feb. 2, that the “first ever space-based Blockchain node,” made by Qtum, has been launched on a Chinese satellite.

Qtum had reported the launch date[7] on Twitter on Jan. 31, with a link to a countdown to Feb. 2.

However, Friday, the day of the launch, the countdown was replaced with a link to the China National Space Administration website’s press release[8] on the successful launch of the Zhangheng-1 satellite. Qtum and Blockchain were not mentioned in the press release.

Users on the r/Qtum subreddit expressed confusion[9] over the disappearance of the website countdown, asking for more information about the success of the launch. Qtum’s Telegram channel had posted a YouTube video[10] of a satellite launch today, with subtitles overlaid saying it was footage of the “first Qtum POS node in space today.”

Qtum’s DApps are unique from those based on Ethereum[11] because the platform uses the Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO)[12] Blockchain model, enabling more lightweight smart contract interactions with mobile and IoT[13] programs.

Qtum is also partners with Spacechain[14], a space exploration initiative aimed at building an open source satellite network. Storing data in outer space would eliminate potential problems with government regulation.

In an interview with Tech in Asia[15] in November 2017, Zheng Zuo, the CEO of Spacechain, had spoken about the projected February 2018 launch date of a Cubesats[16] Spacechain satellite running on a Qtum network.

Spacechain also tweeted a video[17] of the launch today, writing that the rocket was carrying a “SpaceChain satellite and running Qtum full node.”

Qtum had not responded to a request for comments as of press time.