Tencent Holdings’eChat, China’s largest social network with more than 1.2 billion users, has frozen multiple accounts that market digital collectibles, the term typically used in China to refer to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that cannot be bought or sold using cryptocurrencies.
At least a dozen WeChat public accounts, used for publishing and pushing content out to followers, have been suspended for the last two weeks, according to a search by the South China Morning Post.
China has taken a strict stand on digital currencies, and in fact, it banned crypto trading in the country. This is why NFTs are not purchased with digital coins there but rather, buyers pay using the nation’s yuan currency.
The NFTs themselves are not built on Ethereum like usual, but these are built on a blockchain that is controlled by Chinese regulators. There is also no policy yet regarding NFTs as well but the officials are watching strictly. People can only buy non-fungible tokens from a marketplace that is heavily restricted.
With the restrictions, Tencent said it had fixed public accounts on WeChat to avoid the risk of speculation in digital currency transactions. But then again, the company’s spokesman did not confirm the suspended accounts.
WeChat is the largest social network in China, and it has over 1.2 billion users. Of this number, the exact number of the frozen NFT accounts was not revealed but it includes Huasheng Meta and Spirit Leap. These account holders shared with the public that they were suspended after being reported by other users.
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Chinese technology giant Tencent, which owns WeChat, declined to comment further when approached by the BBC.
The move comes as China’s technology industry has come under intense scrutiny by authorities.
The sector has seen a large amount of official action against it since last year, including crackdowns on ecommerce firms, online finance services, social media platforms, gaming companies, cloud computing providers, ride-hailing apps and cryptocurrency miners and exchanges.
Even after all the measures, the trading of NFTs is still not illegal in China. However, the digital assets are built on technology which is regulated by Beijing.