Chinese media firm 36kr Holdings gave away 1,124 metaverse-themed digital collectibles at a conference in Shenzhen on Wednesday, in the latest sign of growing interest in digital assets in China despite Beijing’s wariness of non-fungible tokens (NFT) and the metaverse.
The limited-quantity digital collectibles, issued jointly with Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings, were “gifted” to the conference attendees.
However, the “extremely valuable collectibles” cannot be sold or traded, Nasdaq-listed 36Kr said in a statement, in an apparent move to avoid regulatory scrutiny as Chinese authorities consider digital asset trading as a potential threat to financial stability.
The digital collectibles from 36kr share many essential traits with NFTs in that they cannot be duplicated and are limited in supply.
The announcement is the latest in ongoing developments which reflect the tight rope that China’s Big Tech companies have to walk in exploring emerging areas such as NFT and the metaverse, where regulatory concerns over capital flight and data security hamstring their ability for experimentation.
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In August, Tencent launched an app called to push NFT products, but deleted NFT labels from the app last month, replacing them with the term “digital collectibles”, saying the platform’s “business logic” was completely different from “those unregulated NFT businesses in overseas markets”.
Alipay, the mobile payments operation of Alibaba Group Holding affiliate Ant Group, also changed the name of its NFT artworks – including digital paintings and virtual versions of antiques – to “digital collectibles”.
The move came months after the launch of NFT wallpaper for Ant users’ payment code pages in June. Alibaba is the parent company of the .
Separately, Beijing has stepped up its scrutiny of companies pursuing the metaverse, with state media repeatedly warning against speculative behaviour in the space.
Still, Big Tech companies including Tencent have moved to embrace the metaverse and a number of so-called metaverse stocks listed in mainland China have been on a huge bull run since August.