Digestible news about the latest developments across the fields of NFT, blockchain and metaverse in China, delivered to you every week.
This week: Animoca Brands subsidiary nWay develops official NFTs for Beijing Winter Olympics mascot Bing Dwen Dwen, Tencent-led project becomes first UN-approved standards initiative on NFTs, Hong Kong’s Ocean Park brings virtual attractions to The Sandbox metaverse, and more.
Animoca Brands Subsidiary nWay Develops Official NFTs for Beijing Winter Olympics Mascot Bing Dwen Dwen
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has authorized nWay, a mobile game company owned by game software company Animoca Brands to roll out a series of NFTs featuring Bing Dwen Dwen, the Beijing Winter Olympics panda mascot that is massively popular in the country.
- A total of 500 virtual “boxes,” each of which costs $99 and contains three NFTs of different levels of rarity, were made available for purchase on the company’s website.
- nWay has also helped develop an NFT mobile game based on the Winter Olympics. Olympic Games Jam: Beijing 2022 lets users play to earn NFTs that can be sold outside the video game for actual money. Players who hold nWay’s NFTs can also enter in-game competitions and earn other digital assets.
- However, neither the game nor the official Bing Dwen Dwen NFTs are available in mainland China, despite the mascot’s huge popularity in the country. (SCMP, Pandaily)
Tencent-Led Project Becomes First UN-Approved Standards Initiative on NFTs
A project on the technical framework for NFTs led by Tencent Holdings, with the involvement of Ant Group and others, has been approved by a United Nations specialized agency, which the company says makes it the world’s first UN-approved standards project on digital tokens.
- The project is called “technical framework for distributed ledger technology (DLT)-based digital collection services,” and has been approved by the International Telecommunication Union, the UN agency for information and communication technologies.
- China has banned all activities related to crypto since September last year, and has developed its own networks to back digital collectibles, which are minted on locally controlled blockchains and must be purchased with yuan.
- China’s state-backed Blockchain Services Network (BSN) has rolled out infrastructure to support the deployment of NFT projects not related to cryptocurrencies.
- In addition to Tencent and Ant Group, the project is also supported by academic institutions such as the Chinese Academy of Information and Communications Technology, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications and Zhejiang University.
- According to a statement released by Tencent, the goal of the standard is to “specify the technical architecture, technical flows, functional requirements and security requirements for blockchain-based digital collectibles, and it could help drive a consensus and common understanding around the world on the formation of a technical framework for digital collection services.”
- The first draft of the framework is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. (SCMP)
Hong Kong’s Ocean Park Brings Virtual Attractions to The Sandbox Metaverse
Hong Kong’s Ocean Park announced this week that it will enter The Sandbox metaverse to offer tourists virtual experiences through NFTs and gaming, as visitors to its physical venue dropped throughout the pandemic.
- The Hong Kong government proposed last January that it will transform the physical theme park into a resort and leisure destination with a retail dining and entertainment zone.
- Ocean Park will build unique content based on its theme park in The Sandbox, the park’s CEO Ivan Wong said in a statement, but further details were not revealed.
- Ocean Park is the second-largest and among the oldest theme parks in Hong Kong, located on state-owned land with a government-appointed board.
- The park was once one of Asia’s top attractions but was closed for 146 days and recorded a HK$31.8 million ($4.08 million) loss in the 2020-21 financial year, despite HK$1.45 billion ($190 million) in government relief.
- The Sandbox has been boosting entertainment options in its metaverse, recently adding Warner Music Group to its roster to build a music theme park and hold virtual concerts. (Forkast)
China Adds More Companies to Industry Body Designed to Develop the Country’s Metaverse
A Chinese industry body designed to develop the country’s metaverse applications has added a new batch of companies as it pushes ahead with the latest technology craze.
- On Wednesday, the state-backed China Mobile Communications Association’s metaverse committee added another 17 companies. A total of 112 companies or individuals are in the industry body.
- The latest batch includes publicly listed companies such as Inly Media, which trades in Shanghai, and Beijing Topnew Info & Tech, which trades in Shenzhen.
- The China Mobile Communications Association is registered with the country’s foreign affairs ministry and is backed by major technology firms such as Huawei and telecoms operator China Mobile. Its metaverse committee was set up in October and is tasked with developing standards and technology regarding the metaverse.
- Often, China sets up such committees around technologies it wants to develop quickly and take a lead in, such as blockchain. The setting up of the metaverse committee could also suggest China is looking to regulate the technology as it develops, according to CNBC.
- Du Zhengping, head of the China Mobile Communications Association’s metaverse industry committee, told Reuters in January that whereas the Chinese government allowed traditional internet companies to develop first, then come under regulation, industries like metaverse are likely to be regulated as they grow. (CNBC)
OnlyFans Gets Into the NFT Game
OnlyFans, an online subscription platform known for adult content, has launched a feature for users to display verified NFTs as profile pictures, it said on Thursday.
- The UK-based company, which said it introduced the feature in December, joins social media companies such as Twitter and Reddit that have explored ways to incorporate digital tokens within their platforms.
- OnlyFans, which was launched in 2016, boomed during the pandemic as it became a way for creators to earn money selling content directly to subscribers.
- OnlyFans said it only supports NFTs minted on the ethereum blockchain. It said creators’ NFT profile pictures would show an ethereum icon to mark them as authentic.
- According to Fortune, an NFT profile picture isn’t likely to do much to entice patrons to pay sex workers and others a monthly subscription fee. However, should the site begin working with its creators to generate NFTs that patrons can purchase, it could be another layer for both sides to benefit financially.
- OnlyFans had net revenue of $375 million in 2020 and expected $1.2 billion in 2021, according to a pitch deck obtained by Axios. It had, as of last October, over 7 million paying “fans” per month and has shelled out $3.2 billion to its creators thus far.
- The company makes 20% off every financial transaction right now. If that rate holds for NFT sales, it could dramatically increase its bottom line. (Reuters, Fortune)
JP Morgan Opens a Virtual Bank in the Metaverse
The largest bank in the United States, JPMorgan, has taken a massive step into the metaverse, opening a virtual lounge in the popular blockchain-based world Decentraland after it labeled the sector as a $1-trillion opportunity.
- Visitors to the lounge, situated in Decentraland’s Metajuku Mall, are greeted by a roaming tiger and a digital portrait of Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan. If players walk upstairs, they can watch an executive’s presentation on the economics of cryptocurrency.
- The Onyx Lounge, named after JPMorgan’s in-house blockchain payments system, was unveiled alongside a report from the bank detailing the types of business opportunities companies can expect to find in the metaverse.
- The report notes that the average price of virtual land doubled from $6,000 to $12,000 between June and December last year, and predicts that in-game advertising spending will have reached $18.4 billion per annum by 2027.
- The report also points to aspects of the metaverse that need improvement. These include the overall user experience and performance of avatars, as well as commercial infrastructure. (Cointelegraph, Coindesk)
That’s it for this week’s newsletter – thanks for reading! As always, I welcome any feedback on how to make this newsletter better. My email is [email protected]. Hope you all had a good week, and see you again next week!