Alipay to offer museum collectibles powered by NFTs across Lunar New Year as digital assets gain traction

  • The digital collectibles, based upon artifacts from 24 museums, are powered through Ant’s Jingtan platform
  • NFTs are seen as one way of bringing China’s vast quantity of relics into the digital world

Alipay, operated by Ant Group, is pushing blockchain-based digital collectibles to Chinese consumers via partnerships with 24 provincial and municipal museums, adding momentum to the non-fungible token (NFT) wave in mainland China.

The digital collectibles, based upon artifacts from the 24 museums, are powered through Topnod, or Jingtan, a platform developed by Ant. The collectibles, most of which are restricted to a limited collection under 10,000, are set to go on sale across the Lunar New Year holiday, Ant said. Ant is an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the South China Morning Post.

The inclusion of NFTs in Ant’s annual campaign of “gathering the Five Fortunes” could drive substantial interest in digital collectibles in China despite the government’s vague stance on the emerging digital assets. Ant’s Five Fortunes card collection campaign, known as Wufu, is hugely popular in China during the holidays, with hundreds of millions of consumers sending wishes to each other.

Unlike mainstream NFT products in other markets, NFTs on the mainland are not linked to cryptocurrencies as Beijing has imposed a strict ban on the use and trading of cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, trading of NFTs remains heavily restricted in the country.

The Ant-developed Jingtan platform is one of the most popular in China with hundreds of digital collectible items available for purchase, including paintings, music and 3D-models of historical artifacts from museums.

Ant is not alone in trying to give NFTs a push during the upcoming Year of the Tiger.

Baidu, which operates blockchain platform Xuperchain, is also offering a series of digital collectibles featuring the Year of the Tiger, according to a WeChat official post on Friday. Meanwhile, gaming giant NetEase rolled out its own digital collectibles on Wednesday, just in time for the holidays.

NFTs are seen as one way of bringing China’s vast quantity of relics into the digital world. According to a recent research report by the Central University of Finance and Economics, 44 per cent of cultural relics in China have been digitalised.

However, Beijing’s attitude towards NFTs remains uncertain, with mainland tech firms still needing to convince regulators that their NFTs will be used for collection purposes and not for speculation and money laundering.

Authors: Ann Cao, Tracy Qu, SCMP

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