Tencent invests heavily in blockchain, other emerging tech

Chinese tech giant Tencent will invest 500 billion yuan ($70 billion) in emerging technologies such as blockchain, a new report has revealed.

The company, most renowned for its WeChat messaging app, will invest in other technologies as well, including cybersecurity, cloud computing and artificial intelligence in the next five years,  according to a Reuters report.

The investment is part of Tencent’s strategy to bounce back after the COVID-19 economic slowdown. Dowson Tong, the company’s senior executive vice president, recently said that Tencent hasn’t been immune to the slowdown, with its cloud services being the worst hit. The Shenzhen-based company currently controls 18% of the Chinese cloud market which is dominated by Alibaba.

“Expediting the ‘new infrastructure’ strategy will help further cement virus containment success,” Tong said.

Tencent didn’t reveal what portion of the investment will go towards its blockchain division or what projects it plans to focus on.

The company has been one of the biggest players in the blockchain industry. In April, it announced that it had launched a blockchain accelerator program. The program would admit companies that focus on blockchain-based applications for data sharing, supply chain management, digital payments, governance, logistics and more. Participants will get free access to Tencent’s Blockchain-as-a-Service (BAAS) platform and get to tap into a large industry network. The application period ends on June 6.

The huge investment is yet another proof of the rising interest in blockchain brought about by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. While it has led to the downfall of quite a few blockchain startups after they ran out of cash, the pandemic has shone a light on the impact that blockchain can have in the development of robust systems that can withstand such epidemics.

In China, the government has stepped up efforts to launch its central bank digital currency. The central bank is already conducting trials in four cities as it readies itself for national rollout.

The country also launched its Blockchain Service Network (BSN) amid the pandemic. BSN allows developers to build decentralized applications using various public blockchains. According to its developers, the network will reduce the costs associated with developing blockchain applications by 90%.

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