Chinese internet giant Tencent is reportedly forming a team to explore possible new use cases for cryptocurrencies. According to an internal notice the firm circulated on December 23, Tencent informed employees it was searching for someone to head a new cryptocurrency research unit, which will form part of the company’s payments wing.
The new team will explore digital currency usage in its payment platform. It will also consider how cryptocurrencies could be used within existing and future regulatory regimes.
The research team will reportedly support government initiatives in the area. Reports suggest the new Tencent unit will work on developing the government’s pilot digital currency plan in the city of Shenzhen.
Tencent’s WeChat Pay is one of the largest payment processors in the world, covering nearly 40 percent of China’s multi-trillion dollar mobile payments industry. About 900 million people used WeChat Pay in 2017. Tencent’s decision to set up a cryptocurrency research team is no surprise to the crypto sector. The tech giant has in effect made an early foray into blockchain business.
Tencent is also the world’s largest gaming company, one of the world’s largest venture capital firms and investment corporations. According to the company’s 2019 Q1 financial report, there were more than 1.1 billion WeChat user accounts and over 700 million QQ users registered.
Getting on Early
As early as 2015, Tencent has started to build the research and development team in blockchain; A year later, the company started the independent research and development of the underlying technology of blockchain; In October 2019, Tencent officially released the 2019 Tencent Blockchain Whitepaper, which proposed the idea and thinking of industrial blockchain and showcased its practices in blockchain-powered e-invoice, bank draft, and what not.
Besides in China, WeChat Pay is available in a handful of other countries. The payments platform is expanding outreach to countries participating in the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative. Tencent has had an active and longstanding interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.