Blockchain digital collections jumping red capital players start a “customer acquisition” price war

The popularity of “digital collections” is still spreading. Since last year, Internet giants Ant and Tencent have successively launched digital collection platforms based on their own alliance blockchains, and more players have also poured into this market track.

A few days ago, Baidu officially entered the digital collection market with the “Baidu Super Chain” and Mango Supermedia with the Mango self-developed blockchain “Light Chain”.

From the public release with a clear price tag to the slogan of limited free collars, major companies are trying their best to attract users of digital collections.

Why do “invisible and intangible” digital collections attract various capital layouts? What determines the clearly marked prices ranging from tens of yuan to several yuan in the market, and even the latest free price? To this end, a reporter from China Business News launched an investigation.

Get together layout: from spelling “qualification” to spelling “price”

The popularity of digital collections comes from the popularity of overseas NFTs (non-fungible tokens). NFT is different from encrypted assets such as Bitcoin that also exist on the blockchain. NFT claims to be able to form a mapping relationship between reality and the virtual world, making each one unique.

In March 2021, a digital painting NFT was auctioned at Christie’s auction house with a bidding price of $69 million, bringing NFT into the public eye.

And the popularity of this new thing has also spread to the domestic market. From mid-2021, Ant Chain digital collection platform “Whale Scout” and Tencent digital collection platform “Magic Core” will be launched one after another. In addition, Internet companies such as Xiaohongshu, JD.com, and NetEase have also launched digital collections. In the financial sector, Baixin Bank and Internet insurance company Taikang Online also released digital collections.

At the beginning of January this year, Bilibili officially announced that registration of its first digital art avatar was officially opened, with a limit of 2,233 on the entire network. Users need to be registered as LV6 users and use Bilibili every day in 2021. At the end of January, Bilibili also launched the “Joyful “Tiger” Digital Collection Avatar, which is priced at 99 yuan and issued in 2,022 pieces. It needs to be obtained by registration and lottery.

Prior to this, most digital collections would be open to the public in the form of a price tag or a combination of rights and prices. For example, Alipay once launched the payment code skin exchange for Dunhuang digital collections. The exchange rule is 10 Alipay points + 9.9 yuan.

However, with the increase of layout players, the free distribution of digital collections that do not require equity qualifications has also begun to appear. Recently, Baidu announced that it will distribute more than 20,000 digital collection avatars to netizens for free.

According to Baidu’s official introduction, the free distribution activity was completed in three rounds. On March 10 and March 12, Baidu distributed 8,888 “Talking Tom Cat” series badges, which can also be used directly as avatars after receiving them. On March 16, Baidu released 3,160 free limited avatars for the 16th birthday of the cartoon character Ali. And on March 21, 23, and 25, Baidu also launched a free distribution of 16,666 digital collections of endangered animals.

Up to now, the vast majority of other digital collections in China will be sold in RMB. What are the reasons for Baidu to give away tens of thousands of pieces for free? How do digital collection projects make money? How is scarcity guaranteed? For the above-mentioned questions, the reporter sent an interview letter to Baidu, but no reply has been received as of press time.

What is the value support behind

It is worth noting that under the uneven pricing, the market’s discussion of the value of digital collections has never stopped.

The industry consensus is that the value of collectibles lies in scarcity. A platform that deployed digital collections in the domestic market last year told reporters that the scarcity of digital collections can be summed up in four key words: “unique number”, “limited release”, “non-copyable” and “non-tampering”.

“Although a single digital collection is unique, the total amount of NFT can actually be issued indefinitely. In the final analysis, the market scarcity of a digital collection can only come from the huge influence of IP (the collective name of famous cultural and creative works) itself.” According to Xia Hailong, a lawyer at Shanghai Shenlun Law Firm, digital collections are only a way of using and selling IP, so their real market value is largely determined by the influence of the original IP.

Chen Jia, a researcher at the International Monetary Institute of Renmin University of China, believes that the current scarcity design of domestic digital collections lacks a long-term mechanism. Digital collections must meet the overall requirements of collection scarcity, which puts forward high requirements for product design. “At present, some digital collection platforms on the market have widely signed creators, and it is not uncommon to use simple certificates to artificially create scarcity. In fact, it does not really establish the scarcity value of digital collections. On the contrary, it gives investors the impression that the market is relatively chaotic. .”

Chen Jia said that the real scarcity of digital collections must be based on the consensus reached by product design, artistic creation and market recognition. Scarcity is difficult to form a long-term mechanism. Once the long-term mechanism fails, the status of digital collections will be fatally threatened. “We’re back to the eternal dilemma of ‘who is more valuable the Mona Lisa’s digital collection or the Mona Lisa’s treasures’.”

But the aforementioned digital collection platforms also clearly have their own opinions. An insider of the platform told reporters: “Scarcity is not the full value of digital collections. The digital collection platform hopes to weaken the ‘economic’ and ‘investment’ values ​​of digital collections, and return the value of digital collections to the cultural and collection value of the collections themselves. “

Han Haiting, a young expert from the Internet Society of China, believes that the core of NFT’s application is as a transaction medium in the digital market, rather than “concocting” the NFT asset itself. At present, the development of NFT is in a chaotic period, because firstly, the assets currently issued on the market rarely have real value including collections, and secondly, the ecological environment on which the market depends, such as customers, transaction culture, demand mining, and even the most critical The point is that as a tool for storing value, NFT is far from mature enough to identify, evaluate and certify the value it stores, so it lacks a unified scale for its value measurement.

It is difficult for the alliance chain to obtain the same credibility as the public chain

Different from the foreign model of deploying NFT through a completely decentralized public chain, at present, domestic Internet companies such as Ant, Tencent, Baidu, and Mango Supermedia, which have just launched digital collections, are all digital collection platforms built through alliance chains.

Xia Hailong said that the public chain is usually considered to be completely decentralized, there is no management organization on the chain, and its access is not restricted, so the degree of trust and security is also the highest, but the transaction efficiency is low, while the private chain, alliance chain It does not have the fundamental characteristics of decentralization, which is completely opposite to the advantages and disadvantages of public chains. “Due to the inherent advantages of the high degree of decentralization of the public chain, from the perspective of anti-tampering and anti-spam, the public chain NFT has a higher objective credibility, and this level of credibility is also extremely difficult to obtain for private chains and alliance chains. .”

Although the above-mentioned digital collection Internet companies revealed that the alliance chain is their choice to explore the digital collection ecology under compliance requirements. However, there are also opinions in the industry who insist that the relative lack of credibility of the digital collections of the alliance chain is a difficulty that its development needs to overcome. Chen Jia also said that the current public chain itself has legal obstacles in China.

Bo Sheng, founder of Chainstone Capital, said that the NFT of the public chain is the real non-fungible token. Only when NFT is launched on the public chain can real rights that cannot be copied can be realized. After the digital collection is launched on the alliance chain, the same digital collection can also be copied on another different alliance chain. “The consortium chain cannot achieve the function of non-homogenization in essence, and it cannot realize the function of protecting intellectual property like the public chain.”

Han Haiting once introduced to reporters that most of the current domestic NFT practice and research only stay in the stage of “asset on-chain”, and some items are “concocted” into non-standard digital assets, so a series of digital collections with little meaning have been derived, neither can Guaranteeing the value of assets does not really guarantee the rights and interests of the actual creator or owner. This part of NFT may attract the attention of regulatory authorities in the future. “The NFT issued by the alliance chain (or even the private chain) is a portal built by a club or private organization, similar to a store.”

“For example, company A has built a consortium chain, and after the collectibles are put on the chain through the NFT accounting technology on the chain, company B can also build another consortium chain to copy the collectibles on the chain.” Bo Sheng further explained by example, through the consortium The chain has not realized the reasonable market demand for “non-copyable”, and the reasonable demand for copyright protection in the original market has not been effectively solved.

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