Alibaba Opening NFT Marketplace, Backed by Sichuan Government

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In Brief
  • Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is opening a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace with the approval of the Sichuan provincial government.

  • Although Chinese authorities are cracking down on private cryptocurrencies, they are enthusiastic about blockchain technology.

  • Alibaba already sold 8,000 limited-edition NFTs based on two pieces of artwork commemorating ancient art from the Dunhuang Caves.

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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is opening a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace with the approval of the Sichuan provincial government.

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The marketplace launched this week as a new section on Alibaba Auction, the Chinese tech giant’s online auctioning platform. Dubbed “Blockchain Digital Copyright and Asset Trade,” the service enables writers, musicians, and other artists to sell the rights to their content via blockchain. 

A platform run by the Sichuan Blockchain Association Copyright Committee, the New Copyright Blockchain, will issue the NFTs. Although Chinese authorities are cracking down on private cryptocurrencies, they are enthusiastic about blockchain technology. By allowing Alibaba to sell NFTs, Chinese authorities are facilitating the integration of blockchain technology into key industries as part of its effort to become the most advanced blockchain power in the world by 2025.

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NFT auctions

The platform has already listed numerous products, which it will start auctions off from next month. A Star Wars illustration and a painting of the West Pearl Tower, a landmark in Sichuan’s capital Chengdu, are included. Each auction starts at 100 yuan (US$15), while bidding requires a deposit of 500 yuan. Upon victory, buyers can view their prizes on Tencent Holdings’ WeChat by visiting the public account for Bit Universe. 

Alibaba already sold 8,000 limited-edition NFTs based on two pieces of artwork commemorating ancient art from the Dunhuang Caves. The “NFT payment code skins” quickly sold out on the “AntChain Fan Grain” mini program in the Alipay app.

NFT mania

As unique, encrypted tokens, NFTs enable immutable proof of ownership, although the technology does not prevent unauthorized reproduction. However, the purchaser of the original NFT retains ownership of the content, whether it be music, artwork, or a deed.

NFTs became a hot new form of digital investment earlier this year, continuing to surge to new highs in Q2. By the beginning of July, NFTs had achieved sales of over $2.5 billion, according to data compiled by DappRadar. That was up from just $13.7 million in the first half of 2020, and is expected to reach $175 million by October.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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