China NFT Weekly: China’s First Virtual College Campus

Digestible news about the latest developments across the fields of NFT, blockchain and metaverse in China, delivered to you every week.

This week: China to create its own NFT industry based on state-backed blockchain infrastructure, Animoca Brands sees private valuation surge to $5 billion, the Communication University of China launches virtual campus in the metaverse, and more.

The Sandbox developer Animoca Brands sees private valuation surge to $5 billion amid metaverse frenzy

Hong Kong-based blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands saw its valuation soar to $5 billion on Tuesday as investors continue to bet on the potential of NFTs and the metaverse.

  • Animoca Brands announced on Tuesday that it had completed a new fundraising round worth $358.89 million, bringing its private valuation to $5 billion.
  • The lastest financing round was led by Liberty City Ventures, a New York-based seed investor focusing on technology, media, telecommunications (TMT) and commerce.
    • Other investors include Seoul-based mutual fund Mirae Asset, Sequoia China, and crypto-focused firms such as 10T Holdings and Gemini Frontier Fund. Hong Kong-based Gobi Partners Greater Bay Area also took part in the round.
  • Animoca Brands said that the proceeds will be used to continue funding strategic acquisitions and investments, product development and licences for popular intellectual properties.
  • Animoca Brands has garnered increasing interest among investors since it acquired The Sandbox, a blockchain-based, 3D open-world mobile game (an open-world game allows users to explore and build on the gaming universe, rather than being restricted to a linear narrative structure) in 2018. Animoca’s valuation is now up five-fold since the company reached unicorn status last May.
  • The successful fundraising points to increasing investor appetite for metaverse and NFT, which saw its market size surpass $40 billion in 2021.
  • More about Animoca Brands:
    • The company was founded in 2014 by Hong Kong-based businessman Yat Siu.
    • It was previously listed on the Australian Stock Exchange but delisted in 2020 as it made a pivot towards cryptocurrencies and blockchain gaming.
    • In addition to The Sandbox, Animoca Brands’ investment portfolio includes an NFT marketplace Nifty, a cryptowallet app Metamask, and a blockchain game Axie Infinity, which saw its valuation skyrocket to $3 billion last October. (SCMP, TechCrunch)

SEE ALSO: Mass-market play-to-earn NFT game developer DOGAMÍ secures pre-seed funding from Animoca Brands.

China to create own NFT industry based on state-backed blockchain infrastructure

China’s state-backed Blockchain Services Network (BSN) plans to roll out infrastructure at the end of this month to support the deployment of NFTs, a major step towards creating a Chinese NFT industry that is not linked to cryptocurrencies.

  • The infrastructure is named the BSN-Distributed Digital Certificate (BSN-DDC) and will offer application programming interfaces for businesses and individuals to build their own user portals or apps to manage NFTs.
  • BSN: NFT with Chinese characteristics?
    • The service network is different from crypto-backed NFT networks in that it supports Chinese yuan payments.
    • While conventional NFTs are traded on public blockchains (decentralized platforms that provide access to anyone wanting to write and read data), BSN uses a hybrid “open-permissioned” chain that allows certain groups to monitor and govern the data.
      • Open-permissioned chains are necessary because public chains are considered “illegal” in China, as the state requires all internet systems to verify user identities and permit the regulator to intervene in the event of “illegal activities.”
  • The open-permissioned blockchains will consist of 10 blockchains where creators themselves can decide what NFT applications they would like to build, according to He Yifan, CEO of BSN developer Red Date Technlogy.
  • He also said that the project would turn a profit this year if it could help generate 10 million NFTs.(SCMP, Forkast)

SEE ALSO: Blockchain Services Network Architect Red Date to Launch NFT Infrastructure in China

The Communication University of China launches virtual campus in the metaverse

The leading public university has launched a virtual campus in Baidu‘s recently unveiled Xirang metaverse, making it China’s first academic institution to enter the industry.

  • The Communication University’s digital art department has recreated the school’s architecture and infrastructure using 3D modeling, street view maps and other digital tools. Students and visitors can explore the virtual campus using VR headsets, mobile phones and computers.
  • In December last year, the Communication University hosted an animation festival in the metaverse, inviting digital art creators and lovers from all over the world to participate virtually during the pandemic.
  • More about the Communication University:
    • The Communication University was founded in 1954 as a training center for technicians of China’s Central Broadcasting Bureau.
    • In 1959, it was upgraded to the Beijing Broadcasting Institute (BBI). Since 2004, it has been renamed the Communication University of China, directly administered by the Ministry of Education.
  • It is known for fostering media administrators, producers, journalists and TV presenters. (Forkast, CUC WeChat Account)

Chinese police arrest eight over ‘rug pull’ crypto scam

Chinese police have arrested eight people and froze nearly 6 million yuan ($946,000) worth of virtual assets involved in a crypto scam – the latest move in Beijing’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies.

  • The public security bureau of Chizhou city in the eastern province of Anhui said via WeChat that the fraud case involved digital assets worth 50 million yuan.
  • Hundreds of investors lost money in the scheme that allowed the alleged criminals to transfer the liquidity to an “anonymous pool” and launder it without the consent of investors.
  • The Chizhou police investigation began after an investor lost 590,000 yuan worth of cryptocurrency in June last year. The eight people – from various provinces including Guangdong, Sichuan and Hunan – were arrested in December, and luxury cars and villas worth tens of millions of yuan were seized.
  • Crypto investors in China have lost more than $2.8 billion in scams such as this, known as “rug pulls,” according to a report by blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. “Rug pulls” accounted for 37% of illicit revenue last year China, compared to 1% in 2020, the Chainalysis report said.
  • Scams on decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms often take shape in a token listed on a decentralized exchange. Investors pile money into the token in the hope its price will increase. Scammers then “pull” the liquidity from the exchange, pocketing the money. (NIKKEI Asia)

Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard wipes $20 billion off Sony’s market value in a day

Sony Group Corp. shares fell 13% in Tokyo on Wednesday, their biggest drop since October 2008, after PlayStation rival Microsoft Corp. announced a deal to acquire games publisher Activision Blizzard Inc.

  • The acquisition escalates Microsoft’s spending spree to secure intellectual property assets for its Xbox Game Pass service, wiping $20 billion off Sony’s valuation in a single day.
  • Sony’s traditional console business model relies on high-profile exclusive titles and hardware sales, but it is being challenged by Microsoft’s push to attract paying subscribers with an overwhelming portfolio of games.
  • Microsoft announced Tuesday that it has more than 25 million Game Pass subscribers and will offer Activision Blizzard games within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass. Call of Duty, Diablo and World of Warcraft are among several highly successful franchises developed under the Activision Blizzard umbrella.
  • Sony has maintained a consistent lead in sales and exclusive games over Microsoft’s competing offerings across several PlayStation and Xbox generations, but as Microsoft now signals its determination to close that gap, Sony is under pressure to respond. (Bloomberg)

Genetics may be the reason why some of us hate cilantro 🙂

To most of us, cilantro is a tasty herb, but some people find it revolting. The reason could be a matter of personal preference, but it could also be genetic. Some people simply can’t eat cilantro because the herb tastes like soap to them! This is because these people have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that make them taste the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves more easily. This genetic variation is usually only found in a small population. In places where cilantro is popular, like Central America, fewer people have this gene variation. East Asians have the highest incidence of this variation, with some studies showing that for nearly 20% of the population, cilantro tastes like soap.

So be kind to your cilantro-hating friends!

That’s it for this week’s newsletter – thanks for reading! As always, I welcome any feedback on how to make this newsletter better. My email is Have a great weekend, and see you next week!