Baidu Japan, the subsidiary of China’s largest search engine, has partnered with local firms on a Japanese non-fungible token (NFT) venture SimejiWEB3 and an associated community, CryptoSemeji. The NFTs and a future game are based around the popular Simeji emoji app. A key partner in the initiative is Japanese game developer ITI with whom Baidu says it will work on web3-related business.
The NFTs will be released on the public Ethereum blockchain.
It’s widely known that cryptocurrency is banned in China, and the Chinese government has frowned on speculation around non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Hence in July, BigTechs Ant, Tencent, JD, Baidu, and others signed up for a voluntary code of practice on NFTs in China, preventing their re-sale and other restrictions. They also refer to NFTs as “digital collectibles.” More recently, Tencent has withdrawn from the sector entirely.
But that doesn’t stop the companies from behaving differently in other jurisdictions. The CryptoSimeji website is available in English, Japanese and Chinese, and on Discord there were a few Chinese names in a surprisingly quiet forum given the 73,000 members. CryptoSimeji’s six influencers are all Japanese.
One of the influencers provides a Youtube investment channel focused on stocks rather than crypto, although others very much target cryptocurrency.
Perhaps there are some signs of the Chinese conservative influence with the initial 10,000 NFTs being given away for free. But there won’t be restrictions on re-sales with a 5% fee for transfers.
Meanwhile, Baidu has been involved with blockchain more broadly for several years, starting with a solution for copyright protection and including judicial arbitration and health solutions. It launched a blockchain-as-a-service offering initially based on its own XuperChain and followed that with a low-cost blockchain hosting solution for small businesses.