Alibaba Cloud launches NFT solution… then quickly memory holes it

The cloud business unit of Chinese marketplace giant Alibaba Group Holdings launched a new nonfungible token (NFT) solution and then promptly deleted all mention of it online.

According to a now-deleted Twitter post announcing the launch on Wednesday, the firm’s NFT marketplace solution included “web hosting, digital marketing & content delivery” infrastructure but is no longer listed on its website.

There are also no press releases or announcements related to the NFT solution on Alibaba’s website anymore. Meanwhile, the solution’s webpage link still shows up in Google search results and now redirects to Alibaba Cloud’s solution index page.

Deleted Alibaba Cloud tweet: WayBackMachine

The reason behind the deleted social media posts and delisting on its website is unclear at this stage. While crypto trading and mining are banned in China, there is a regulatory gray area with NFTs in the country — officials frown upon it but are yet to issue an outright ban.

The shortly lived NFT-focused solution was set to offer Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service (ECS) and Auto Scaling for marketplace growth, an SMS-integrated digital marketing service for sellers to connect with buyers, and a Global Delivery Service, Alibaba Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Server Load Balancer (SLB) capable of supporting 100,000 queries per second.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) — which is owned by Alibaba — noted that the solution was intended for customers outside of mainland China, with a representative telling the publication that the solution was for Alibaba Cloud’s international website only.

The SCMP also stated that Alibaba affiliated companies such as Ant Group and Tencent Holdings have moved to avoid any potential regulatory pushback in the past by branding their listed NFTs as “digital collectibles.” They are also offered on private blockchains and are traded/purchased using Chinese fiat currency.

Alibaba Cloud does still have a new metaverse-focused solution listed on its website that offers remote rendering, data analytics and AI, along with Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) as part of the private Alibaba Cloud Blockchain.

Under the metaverse solution, the company notes that NFTs can be integrated into a metaverse built off of Alibaba’s services, but the firm does not provide any of that specific infrastructure.

Related: Half of Asia’s affluent investors have crypto in their portfolio: Report

In April, the China Banking Association, the China Internet Finance Association and the Securities Association of China issued a joint statement warning the public from investing in NFTs due to “hidden risks” of the assets. They also noted that businesses should not consider NFTs like other financial products such as securities, precious metals and other financial products.

Cointelegraph also reported in March that Chinese social media giants such as WeChat and WhaleTalk updated their policies to restrict or remove NFT platforms from their networks, citing a lack of regulatory clarity and fearing a government crackdown. However, Beijing has yet to issue a blanket ban on the sector.