Ant Group Says NFTs Are Not Cryptocurrencies After Digital Artwork Sells Out

16,000 copies of NFT-backed app images sold out on Ant Group’s payment platform Alipay within hours on Wednesday. 

The sale, however, prompted the Jack Ma-controlled Ant Group to clarify that non-fungible tokens are not cryptocurrencies, Reuters reported. Ant’s swift response appears to be related to China’s intensifying crackdowns on crypto trading and mining. 

Alipay and Dunhuang Research Academy jointly released two images based on AntChain, which is Ant’s enterprise blockchain, for the app’s payment page. Each image has 8,000 copies. 

The two digital artworks appear to be inspired by murals in the Mogao caves in Gansu province of Northwestern China, which has been listed as a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

The buyers do not own the copyrights of these two images. But the image will appear on their payment page whenever they use Alipay. People were able to purchase the digital artworks by a combination of 9.9 yuan (or $1.52) and ten Alipay reward points, which can be earned by its users from making purchases with the mobile app. 

NFT art can be auctioned on Alipay and Ant Group’s enterprise blockchain AntChain said it supports NFT products with its technology, according to the report. 

Alipay’s adoption of NFTs could be significant because it provides Chinese buyers with a channel to pay for NFT artwork with local fiat currency renminbi. The artwork on decentralized public chains such as Ethereum would have to be paid with native tokens. That could be difficult for Chinese investors since the country started cracking down on fiat-to-crypto trading in 2017.