Three of China’s best known tech conglomerates — including Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Group, JD.com’s unit JD Technology, and Tencent Cloud — have jointly issued what they called a self-disciplinary industry convention related to “digital cultural and creative works” and vowed to resist non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as the tech giants are rebranding their NFT projects as “digital collectibles” amid growing criticism from state media.
The trio pledged in the convention that they will not get involved with cryptocurrency and will work to prevent speculation and risks of money laundering, according to a statement released on Sunday by AntChain, Ant Group’s blockchain arm.
AntChain said digital collection is one of the main forms for digital creation, and these blockchain-certified digital collectibles are especially popular among young people.
Guofei Jiang, vice president of Ant Group, said in the statement that digital collectibles on AntChain are pegged with the real value of quality cultural intellectual property and artworks and the company “firmly resists any form of malicious hype.”
The tech giants’ moves come as they recently rebranded their NFT features and instead changed their references to “digital collectibles,” after state-owned media heaped criticisms and scorn on NFTs.
Alipay, a mobile payment app that is ubiquitous in China and run by Ant Group, has changed the name of the NFT collections on its platform to digital collectibles. The company said in a statement last week that AntChain “sets strict standards to carefully select the content of digital collectibles, requires real-name authentication for buyers to minimize fraud risk, and only allows digital collectibles to be freely gifted between authenticated Alipay users after they have been held by one of them for more than 180 days.”
Meanwhile, Huanhe, an NFT app Tencent launched in August, has also removed NFT references from the app.
Although NFTs are not included in China’s recent stepped-up ban against cryptocurrency-related activities, the country’s state media have expressed strong concerns over the new form of digital collectibles. In September, Securities Times, a sister paper of the People’s Daily, published an opinion piece to criticize NFTs as hype and suggested the digital assets should serve the real economy by tokenizing actual assets.
Last month, Chinese government-aligned newspaper Guangming Daily also published an opinion article to criticize NFT hype, saying it is “definitely not good for the healthy development of NFT.” Notably, the article praised AntChain’s stance on NFT mania, when AntChain last month removed an NFT bidding item from Alibaba’s auction platform Ali Auction after the bid price once went through the roof to 3.149 million yuan (about US$490,000).