On October 17, 2017, Baidu – the company behind China’s top search engine – joined an open-source collaboration for blockchain technology known as Hyperledger. According to Amazon’s Alexa, baidu.com is the most popular website in China and ranks fourth globally. The Beijing-based conglomerate has a market cap of $93.95 billion at time of press.
Baidu previously expressed interest in cryptocurrency in June 2016 when it invested $60 million in Circle Internet Financial. Six months later, however, Circle removed its bitcoin buying and selling features and shifted focus to its mobile payments business. Circle launched a blockchain-based, no-fee foreign payments service in June 2017.
In China, over the last several months, regulators shut down vast swathes of the cryptocurrency world, banning token offerings (ICOs) and demanding that trading on cryptocurrency exchanges cease. Despite these heavy-handed decrees, the authorities appear more concerned about the economic impact of cryptocurrencies than blockchain technology itself.
It’s unclear if Baidu will immediately incorporate blockchain technology, but the company has a broad product base for experimentation. Readers can get a sense of the company’s breadth from just a small sprinkling of its products, which include maps, music, patent searches, cloud storage, and autonomous cars.