Despite soft bans and official pronouncements otherwise, Chinese firms appear to be launching headlong into cryptocurrency mining.
CnLedger, a Twitter-based Chinese crypto news information provider, relayed the report from Chinese Internet service qq.com, stating Alibaba’s ‘P2P Nodes’ platform had “launched” after a registration in October 2017.
Another Chinese conglomerate, Tencent, has registered a “Blockchain-related trademark” for an entity referred to variously as ‘Ether Lock’ and ‘Ethernet Lock.’
Both these plays by Chinese tech giants is surprising since China has declared a ban on crypto-to-fiat trading and issued statements saying it is hostile to crypto mining.
Alibaba was launched by entrepreneur Jack Ma with close cooperation of the Chinese government to provide consolidated Internet services to Chinese consumers. Similar to Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy, Alibaba is reported to be nearly 50 times more profitable than Amazon.
It’s unlikely that either company is acting against Chinese government policy, prompting speculation that they are trying to leapfrog American tech companies.
In December, Ma declared that the world was “not ready” for cryptocurrency and that Alibaba had “spent a lot of efforts” researching blockchain technology, but that Bitcoin is “not for [him]” and “I said honestly, I know very little about it, and I’m totally confused.”
At the same time, Ma — whose net worth tops $46 billion — was quick to praise the advent of blockchain technology, suggesting his company had already looked into ways to harness this tool.
Tencent News hinted that the business model of its mining operation might be based on third-party efforts, meaning the company will loan space on the cloud-based platform for its clients to mine cryptocurrency using its high hashrate infrastructure.
One of China’s largest cloud-based crypto mining pools, ViaBTC, recently shut its doors, citing the vague reasons of controlling speculation and protecting its investor interests.
The report also mentioned that, according to inside sources, the platform will form a partnership with electricity suppliers.
It’s possible that Alibaba is simply trying to keep ahead of the game and will eventually invest in massive amounts of technology with the advantage of Chinese government patronage.
This would not be the first time Alibaba had started late and then moved decisively to dominate in the world’s largest economy.
According to reports, Alibaba has had representatives at international blockchain events, talking to upcoming companies and interviewing talent, including former executives at Bitpay, Coinbase, Face, and Google.
Though their ultimate plans are hard to discern, competitors outside of Tencent would be hard pressed to beat Jack Ma and the Chinese government.
There are even rumors of Alibaba expanding into the United States and purchasing a competitor such as Amazon — if the U.S. government would allow it.