Recently Chinese online search giant Baidu joined the blockchain technology bandwagon when it unveiled a digital adoption service for puppies known as Leci Gou. Under the service users can adopt one virtual dog and get 1,000 free points which they can use to buy other dogs or breed the one they already have. Blockchain or distributed ledger technology is then used to record adoptions and other ensuing transactions.
As an idea Baidu’s Leci Gou is inspired by Cryptokitties which offers digital adoption services for kittens and runs on the blockchain network of Ethereum. The popularity of Cryptokitties rose rapidly last year and this led to the network getting clogged as well as dozens of clones being created on other networks. NetEase, a video game publisher based in China, for instance unveiled a similar blockchain-based game known as Beckoning Cat.
Blockchain as a service
The reason behind Baidu launching Leci Gou is not to generate revenues but to use it for purposes of showcasing the blockchain-as-a-service platform that the online search giant unveiled mid last month. When it launched the service Baidu indicated that it was the first blockchain-powered securities exchange that was backed by assets and based in China.
At the moment Baidu’s financial technology unit is growing and provides loans as well as wealth management products and other banking services. Some of the rivals of the unit include Ant Financial which is backed by Alibaba, JD Finance which is owned by JD.com and the WeChat pay, Webank and Tenpay platforms of Tencent Holdings.
Baidu’s tech rivals
All these companies have made heavy investments in the distributed ledger technology. Alibaba for instance has been named as the largest owner of patents related to blockchain technology per IPRDaily, a Chinese website. The online retailer applies the distributed ledger technology to enhance e-commerce transactions as well as track issues in the supply chain. JD.com also uses the technology to improve its logistics, handle issues of food safety and keep track of the supply chain. Tencent on the other hand has a partnership with chipmaker Intel where the two are involved in a project aimed at creating blockchain services known as TrustSQL.
This comes in the wake of Baidu indicating that it was planning on having iQiyi, its online video unit, publicly listed in the United States in order to allow the search giant to focus on other areas.
“[Exiting non-core businesses] will sow the seed for Baidu’s future growth in autonomous driving and conversational AI, particularly in the home environment,” said Herman Yu, Baidu’s Chief Financial Officer, in a statement.