Chinese e-commerce giant JD rolled out today a crowdfunding platform dubbed Fenziqian (“whip-round” in Chinese), tapping into yet another field just one week after launching a Travel Channel. The company positioned the new platform as an important part of JD Finance, which offers business like payment as well as financing services for its suppliers and retailers.

On the platform, investors can communicate with the fundraisers to determine the product design, manufacturing and pricing, a JD representative said.

Altogether 12 crowdfunding campaigns have launched on the platform now, of which seven are smart hardware projects, including ZIVOO which we featured before, while the rest are pop-culture projects like movies and concerts.

As we have said before, it is quite natural for JD to build a crowdfunding site, because it has become one of the first distribution channels for smart hardware, with a series of steps in this area, like the launch of hardware accelerator JD+, the hardware-targeted cloud service JCloud and cooperation with leading hardware crowdfunding platform DemoHour.

But it seems that JD is entering the crowdfunding battlefield at a time when most of its domestic rivals are trying to avoid the crowdfunding concept and pivot to pre-sale platforms.

Although inspired by U.S. platforms like Kickstarter, domestic crowdfunding sites have to adapt to Chinese market which is hugely different from where the model boomed. While the U.S. has a strong culture of donations, which is the basis of the crowdfunding concept, Chinese donors are more practical and interested in projects with tangible products that they can get in the near future. A pre-sale website for smart hardware seems to be a balance that Chinese crowdfunding sites found for the model in China. Several leading Chinese crowdfunding platforms, like DemoHour and Knewbi, have started to re-brand themselves as smart hardware pre-sale platforms. Australian crowdfunding site Pozible is also entering the Chinese market with a hardware pre-sale business.

This story originally appeared on TechNode. Copyright 2014


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