It has been widely reported that China wants nothing to do with crypto-currencies but that angst does not stretch to the underlying technology that powers them; distributed ledger, or blockchain. The internet and retail giants in China are clamoring to get ahead in this emerging industry and JD.com is the latest to embrace it.

It was announced this week that JD.com, in partnership 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), has launched a research lab for blockchain technology.

JD.com is a goliath in terms of trade; it has around 30% of the online e-commerce business in China with over 300 million users. Its new blockchain lab will be geared towards solving efficiency, stability, and scalability problems the technology currently faces and examining new applications for it. Among other areas this will include multi-year collaborative research efforts into fundamental consensus protocols, privacy protection, and security in decentralized applications, or dApps.

Deputy director of the Software Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zhong Hua, said: “Through this partnership we will bring about blockchain innovation and promote industrial applications of blockchain technology.”

The lab will be headed by Dr Jian Pei, 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.

“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,” Dr Pei added.

The blockchain lab is not the first foray JD.com has made into this field. In August, the company revealed its new Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform called JD Blockchain Open Platform. The system has been designed to aid enterprise clients in developing their own blockchain applications with no prior knowledge of the technology.

The firm also revealed plans to issue asset-backed securities on a blockchain in conjunction with Huatai Securities and Xingye Bank as it continues to expand into this emerging industry.