Oct 27, 2020|

Feature: A Peek Into JD’s Blockchain Business


by Robin Luo

Blockchain has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it can provide undeniable transparency and improve consumer trust.

But for ordinary people, their question is simple: What is blockchain, and what changes will it bring to them?

“Take food as an example: beef, chicken, or seafood,” said Liu Wenjing, a blockchain specialist with JD Digits, a leading digital technology company that has its roots in JD.com. “Information will be collected and traced by blockchain from rearing, feeding and all the way to shipping and delivery. And it can’t be altered without authorization.”

This year marks the 7th anniversary of JD Digits. The young unicorn company has gained fast growth since it was founded. Liu Wenjing and the blockchain have grown along with the company.

In November 2016, the JD-Y business unit, which is devoted to supply chain innovation, was officially created, and with it, the JD Blockchain team was also formed.

At that time, blockchain was still at an early stage, and the concepts of asymmetrical cryptography and intelligent contracts were new to lots of researchers. Liu and colleagues had to learn from scratch.

“It felt like I was back to school,” she recalled. “Every day we had to study hard on blockchain. Each one of us was assigned with a certain field, and we needed to learn fast, then share the knowledge with others.”

Their efforts paid off. A few months later, JD announced the establishment of JD Tracing and Counterfeit Alliance, a platform aiming to put data from important steps in the production process online, and to make it tamper-proof through blockchain.

JD’s blockchain has been applied successfully in a number of cases. In an ongoing project called the Running Chicken, JD helps farmers in Wuyi County in Hebei province raise free-range chickens. Blockchain technology has played its role for maximum quality assurance and full traceability.

Since early 2018, JD customers have been able to review details about the rearing process for every chicken they buy. A scan of the QR code on the poultry’s packaging allows buyers to view detailed information on sourcing, feeding intervals and more. The chickens are delivered via JD’s self-operated logistics network.

For well-known brands like Wyeth and Nestlé, JD integrates their products with its own storage and logistics system, and creates a unique ID for each can of milk powder to ensure information transparency.

Step by step, JD’s blockchain platform has already partnered with over 1,000 brands and merchants, accumulated more than one billion pieces of commodity data, and responded to more than 7.5 million consumer traceability requests. Scenarios covered include the categories of fresh goods, maternal and infant, alcohol, makeup, supermarket and convenience store, and more.

Blockchain is one of the many high-end technologies JD Digits is embracing. It also has business in AI, robots, digital marketing, smart city and fintech fields.

Things have changed in Liu Wenjing’s work. Four years ago, she had to promote the newly-born blockchain service from door to door. Now as the technology is thriving, more and more companies are reaching out to her for cooperation.

“Through blockchain, we helped companies improve efficiency, create new business models and accomplish digital transformation,” Liu said, her eyes were sparkling with confidence. “I believe blockchain still has huge potential in the future.”