All you need to know to advertise with NFTs in China

Marketing with NFTs (non-fungible tokens) has become a new trend in China.

Imagine how exciting when buying a piece of digital artwork on the internet and getting a unique digital token that proves your authority over the artwork you bought. In time, when the NFT artwork sells well online, the offline product price arises as well.

Wouldn't it be a unique way to promote a upcoming new product to the consumers?

However, the market and regulatory environment for NFTs in China have evolved quite differently than in many other countries.

Legal Environment: Ambiguous

On May 18 2021, the National Internet Finance Association of China, China Banking Association and Payment & Clearing Association of China issued the Announcement on Prevention of Speculation Risks Caused by Virtual Currency Transactions.

In this announcement, it is clear that China completely banned trading and related activities of cryptocurrencies. NFTs are generally created using the same type of programming used for cryptocurrencies. Namely, it relies on the same blockchain technology and are often associated with cryptocurrencies. Therefore, many experts predicted that the NFTs will be banned at that time.

On September 15, 2021, the Circular on Further Preventing and Handling the Risk of Speculation in Virtual Currency Transactions, issued by the People's Bank of China (PBOC) together with 9 other governmental departments, came into effect.

This notice bans the use or circulation of virtual currencies in the market as currency, along with all virtual currency transactions. It also says that it is illegal for overseas cryptocurrency exchanges to provide such services to Chinese residents.

On 13 April, 2022, several industrial associations including the National Internet Finance Association, Securities Association, and the China Banking Association jointly issued a Proposals on Preventing NFT-related Financial Risks.

It makes clearer that NFTs shall not be traded or used as any kind of financial instrument. Therefore NFT in China can only be considered as “digital collectibles” instead of “tokens”, their current status is defined as non-currency so it cannot fall into the scope of trading and related activities of cryptocurrencies.
On July 20, 2022, Tencent decided to close its NFT platform "Huanhe", the biggest NFT platform in China, as a result of the government discouraging any trading or speculation in NFTs.

However, there are still several mainstream platforms offering to mint and purchase NFT works. They are trying to comply with the Chinese government policy. 
For example, Alipay updated its NFT platform agreement, saying that NFT cannot be traded between users, and the owners have to hold NFT works for at least 180 days after he or she purchased the NFTs, or 2 years after receiving the NFTs as a gift before giving to the next person. In addition, the owner needs to pass the identity verification and a series of supervision procedures.

What should be emphasized here is that the buyer cannot use the NFTs in any commercial methods without the approval of the copyright owner. Some individuals think that the NFTs issued by Alipay are not NFTs in the crypto asset community. Nevertheless, many citizens are still trading their NFTs in the underground secondary market.


In summary, brands may still be able to use NFTs successfully in their promotions in China but they should use it in a careful way. Currently, global approaches to NFTs are not totally banned, but you need to consider:

• Register your NFTs legally (choose platforms which obtain the relevant license for the record)

• Describe NFTs in China as “digital collectibles”, not as “tokens” and never as “currency”

• Do not allow or encourage any trading or speculation in NFTs, or imply that NFTs may increase in value or can be used as currency. Namely, you can consider buying NFT works as a donation to the owner, in a way, to support their career.

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