Chinese e-commerce and tech conglomerate Alibaba has quietly launched a cryptocurrency mining platform, according to an unconfirmed local media report.
According to Tencent News, Alibaba registered the platform, which is called “P2P Nodes,” on Oct. 10, 2017 with the relevant local authorities in Nanjing.
“Alibaba has recently launched a virtual currency mining platform “P2P node”, from the terms of the service agreement terms platform, the main operating platform is Alibaba East China Ltd.. It is reported that the company on October 10, 2017 has been completed registration, registered in Nanjing,” the report reads, according to a very rough translation.
It is not clear from the report whether the platform has officially begun registering users.
The news was first brought to the attention of Western audiences by cnLedger, who said that, according to its translation of the report, sources say that Alibaba may eventually incorporate the mining operation into its e-commerce platform.
A separate Tencent report indicates that the operation will be a “third-party” platform, presumably meaning that it will function as a cloud mining service that allows users to rent hashpower from the company.
The report said that Alibaba is “very cautious” about the project and that while users can withdraw cash using Alipay, they are currently unable to directly withdraw the coins that they mine, according to the terms of service.
If the report is accurate, it represents an about-face for Alibaba, whose founder, Jack Ma, indicated last month that the company was not going to engage with cryptocurrency.
“I don’t think we are ready for that,” he said, adding that the company would focus its efforts on fiat-based fintech innovations such as Alipay. “Bitcoin [is] not for me.”
The timing of the report is also significant, given that China’s central bank has lately sought to tighten the noose on the domestic cryptocurrency industry.
Earlier this month, regulators began pressuring local governments and utility providers to stop giving incentives to cryptocurrency mining operations, a policy that officials hope will make China less attractive to this burgeoning industry.
CCN also reported that central bank officials are planning to block domestic access to cryptocurrency trading platforms that are located off the mainland, widening its crackdown on centralized trading that began last year when regulators ordered the shutdown of local exchanges.
This story is developing.
Featured image from Shutterstock.