Artificial Intelligence

Tencent To Open Seattle AI Research Lab

Chinese internet giant Tencent, which just last month passed Wells Fargo to become the world’s tenth most valuable public company, recently announced a play that looks to boost the company’s AI prowess.

Tencent, whose mobile chat and social commerce app Wechat sees over 889 million active users, has decided to open up shop in Seattle — and by shop, we mean an AI research center run by former Microsoft principal researcher Yu Dong, said The Information.

Yu, who announced joining Tencent during an AI conference in March of this year, has historically worked with speech recognition and deep learning. Perhaps an AI-powered, voice-activated assistant is on Tencent’s mind.

The company could have a lot to gain from developing AI — especially as a means to boost social commerce and compete with other global giants (ahem, Amazon and Google) for supremacy in the voice-activated space.

At a Hong Kong industry conference last month, Tencent’s Vice President and WeChat Pay’s General Manager, Zhang Ying, commented that he’s expecting the social media commerce platform to become a regular fixture in every Chinese shop.

With Ying’s prediction of WeChat to be installed everywhere in China within the next two years, it’s likely that WeChat will inevitably achieve this goal. Given the popularity of voice-activated software in the realm of digital commerce, digital payment app providers are likely looking to work the technology into their offerings.

Tencent included.

While Tencent doesn’t do much business with consumers outside China, the internet company does have a lock on social media in the nation of over 1.3 billion. In the past year, Tencent’s stock climbed 43 percent, with year-to-date growth at 20 percent so far in 2017.

The company’s mobile payment system passed 600 million monthly average users in December, generating 600 million transactions daily, pushing the company to earn over $1.3 billion in revenue from payments last year.


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