- E-commerce giant Alibaba has launched an NFT marketplace on its auction platform, SCMP reported Tuesday.
- Several NFTs already have listings on the Chinese service, but bidding will not start until September.
- NFTs have slowly been gaining traction in China, even as Beijing's cracks down on cryptocurrencies.
- Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.
Chinese e-commerce heavyweight Alibaba Group has opened a marketplace for trading non-fungible tokens on its auction platform, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.
The company expects artists, musicians, writers and game developers to sell NFTs of their work on the "Blockchain Digital Copyright and Asset-Trade" marketplace, according to the report from SCMP, which is owned by Alibaba.
Several NFTs have already been listed on the service by creators. They will go to auction next month with a minimum bid of 100 yuan, approximately $15. To participate, bidders must pay a deposit of 500 yuan, or around $77.
NFTs are unique digital tokens such as images, videos, sound clips or certificates that are built on a blockchain. Ownership is inscribed on the ledgers the tokens are built on – this is crucial, as often anyone can view an NFT, but only one person can actually own it. They are therefore often popular among collectors.
The digital tokens have staged a comeback after demand cooled off in the early summer. Trading volumes on NFT platform OpenSea have soared in recent weeks, as more tokens are sold and their worth accelerates.
Items listed on Alibaba Auction include a painting of a local Sichuan landmark, as well as art based on major franchises such as "Star Wars", the video game "Wasteland 2", and "Grand Theft Auto", according to SCMP journalist Josh Ye. He tweeted screenshots of the NFTs on the marketplace.
"We are not sure if these are properly licensed in the first place," Ye said.
The NFTs will be will be minted on the New Copyright Blockchain, which is run by the Sichuan Blockchain Association Copyright Committee. They can be stored and viewed through Bit Universe, an application that is part of the Chinese messaging and social media app WeChat.
NFTs have slowly been gaining traction in China, even as Beijing cracks down on cryptocurrency products and mining. The government appears to be more receptive to blockchain products, and in June, the SCMP reported that China is aiming to incorporate blockchain technologies into its development and economic plans.
Alibaba-affiliated financial service firm Ant Group and SCMP itself have launched NFT projects this summer. In addition, Chinese entertainment giant Tencent joined the NFT world earlier in August with its own token-trading platform, where it sold audio clips from a popular talkshow.