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Ripple Launches 'Xpring' Initiative to Invest in XRP-Focused Startups

Ripple has launched an initiative that aims to give entrepreneurs in the blockchain space a better start in business – as long as they boost its own ecosystem.

Announced Monday, Xpring (pronounced “spring”) will to invest in, acquire and provide grants to “serious” projects and companies run by “proven” entrepreneurs, a company release states.

The venture capital fund will only provide support to startups and projects that make use of the digital asset XRP and the open-source XRP Ledger – blockchain technology with which Ripple has built tools aimed at enterprise businesses.

The firm said, “as one of the few blockchain companies with traction for a non-speculative use case, we feel we’re uniquely positioned to support entrepreneurs in a meaningful way.”

Ripple has appointed Ethan Beard, ex-director of the Facebook Developer Network, as senior vice president to head up the Xpring startup incubator and Ripple’s developer program.

Beard commented in the release:

“Blockchain and digital assets have the ability to solve important problems and XRP – with it’s speed, scalability and demonstrated real-world use case – is a great tool for startups and entrepreneurs to build businesses around.”

In other Ripple news on Monday, the company revealed that Mitsubishi, Standard Chartered and Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri) – a subsidiary of MUFG Bank – are to pilot payments between Singapore and Thailand with Ripple’s xCurrent blockchain product.

The trial aims to demonstrate the commercial viability of using xCurrent for high-speed cross-border payments between independent banks, according to the firm’s release. Ultimately, Ripple hopes to bring a financial advantage for firms using the product in what is a highly competitive sector.

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E-Commerce Giant JD.com Launches Blockchain Startup Accelerator

JD.com, one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms, is launching an accelerator program to foster the development of blockchain-focused startups.

According to an announcement Tuesday, the program, starting in March and dubbed “AI Catapult,” aims to incubate young blockchain firms – helping them scale their applications through integrations with JD.com’s various businesses in China, including e-commerce and logistics.

JD.com said it has already signed up at least four blockchain startups – from China, Australia, Singapore and the U.K. so far – to kick off the initiative. The firms cover a wide range of services from database to payment and identity platforms, JD says.

The initiative comes as the latest effort from the e-commerce firm to adopt blockchain within its various operations.

As reported previously, in December 2017, JD.com partnered with retail giant Walmart to pilot the use of blockchain technology to track food safety in the supply chain.

More recently, JD Logistic, the supply chain arm of JD.com, joined a transportation blockchain alliance to work towards the use of distributed ledgers in the logistics field.

Meanwhile, JD Cloud, the platforms’ cloud computing service division, has quietly launched an online platform that provides tailor-made blockchain solutions, similar to rival blockchain-as-a-Service products unveiled by internet giants Tencent and Baidu.

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500 Startups, Huobi Labs Team Up to Incubate Blockchain Projects

500 Startups, the Silicon Valley startup accelerator, announced today that it is partnering with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi’s incubator wing, Huobi Lab.

The two companies will support startups in various areas, including developing business plans, focusing on elements such as white papers, marketing strategies, community engagement and fundraising efforts, the accelerator said in a press release.

Huobi Lab will bring to the partnership its industry contacts, which are expected to help 500 Startups expanded its blockchain “track” – groups of startups that receive industry-focused assistance. The startups chosen to work with the two firms will be part of 500 Startups’ “Batch 23.”

Edith Yeung, a partner at 500 Startups, said that, in partnering with Huobi Lab, “Our teams will learn so much especially around the ins and outs of how a digital exchange works.”

Huobi Lab founder Junfei Ren said the firm would work with 500 Startups and Batch 23 companies to “help and support all of the new projects as best we can.”

Last year, CoinDesk reported that 500 Startups, although an early investor in some bitcoin projects, had not been investing in initial coin offerings (ICO)s or blockchain projects. At the time, one of the company’s fintech advisors, Mike Sigal, noted the potential risk, both financially and legally, involved when investing in these projects.

Despite its original Chinese yuan-denominated exchange being shut down, Huobi sees a daily trading volume in excess of $1 billion, with customers in more than 130 countries, according to the press release. Huobi Lab was first launched in 2017 to assist startups.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.