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China’s Largest Cloud Service Provider Joins NFT Race

Alibaba Cloud, the largest cloud service provider in China, has announced that it is launching non-fungible token (NFT) solutions that would offer web hosting, digital marketing, and content delivery services for users seeking to build their own NFT marketplaces.

Using its Elastic Compute Service (ECS) and Auto Scaling, users can build their NFT marketplace web server with high elasticity, Alibaba Cloud states on its website. It notes that static content such as images and text in Object Storage Service (OSS) could be stored in the ECS, which provides fast memory that can help to power cloud applications and achieve faster results with low latency, as well as non-sensitive data such as a platform ID and user alias in a database.

Its digital marketing offer enables the sending of promotional, notification, and verification messages in batches to customers worldwide while its Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Server Load Balancer (SLB) help to serve users’ NFT applications across the globe.

Also known as Aliyun, the cloud computing company is a subsidiary of Alibaba Group which has been involved in the Chinese NFT market for some time. Alibaba launched its NFT wallpaper for users’ payment code pages in June 2021, and by October – alongside Tencent after launching their respective NFT projects – started repackaging NFTs as digital collectibles in China ((or Decentralized Digital Certificate (DDC) as is the case with the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN)). This is supposedly to keep the industry growing and to outline the differences between the NFT technology and its link with cryptocurrencies which have been banned in the country.

Unlike in other parts of the world, the technologies behind China’s NFT market are connected to large Chinese companies like  Alibaba’s Antchain. This is to ensure that transactions in this closed version of the market for rights ownership of unique items in digital assets such as music, videos and others are done only in fiat currency (yuan or digital yuan) with no cryptocurrencies. The non-usage of cryptocurrencies helps avoid speculation, steer clear of conflict with Beijing but restricts access to these digital collectibles to within the China market.

Meanwhile, Alibaba’s latest offerings suggest that the cloud company is aiming to reach out to a global audience. One of the indications that products on offer are not only designed for China’s unique market needs is Alibaba Cloud’s direct reference to NFT (instead of digital collectibles) in its announcement. Though not mentioned to be transacting in cryptocurrencies, the company also denominated its offer charges in US dollars – instead of the yuan or digital yuan – to indicate yet another aim at an appeal to a global rather than a China-based market.

It is not clear where Alibaba Cloud stands on the two parallel ownership regimes that have developed for NFTs in China – the Chinese model with collectibles not sellable in the secondary market and the global versions which are accessible in decentralized markets with no external control.

China’s love for NFTs has been growing over time even as China mainland’s NFT market is projected to grow by 150% to reach US$4.64 billion in 2026. Provinces like Sichuan have been encouraging music enterprises to use modern technology to grow their industries including using it for rights ownership which NFTs represent.

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