Bing Dwen Dwen mania spreads to the to digital world, Chinese investors 'betting big' on NFT release
Published: Feb 11, 2022 02:48 PM
Bing Dwen Dwen. Photo: CFP

Bing Dwen Dwen. Photo: CFP

The ongoing Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, one of the world's largest sporting events, has become a vivid display of the meteoric rise of China's digital economy market, from digital yuan payments and the wide application of 5G, cloud and artificial technology that empowers the event, to the long-anticipated release of officially licensed non-fungible token (NFT) digital pins involving multiple designs of Bing Dwen Dwen, the panda mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

With crypto investors "all in" and betting big on the future valuation of Bing Dwen Dwen NFTs and domestic amateur investors eagerly seeking convenient purchasing channels, the craze surrounding the issuance of the very first NFTs for Beijing 2022 not only epitomizes the triumph and phenomenal influence of the event, but also underscores how the booming digital economy - valued at billions of yuan - could propel the world's second-largest economy in the coming years.

The licensed 500 epic boxes, or the mystery box of Bing Dwen Dwen NFTs, which is priced at $99 each, will be open for sale at 1:00 am Saturday (Beijing time) on NFT trading platform nWayPlay. Individual investors can buy a maximum of five boxes. 

The box contains one epic version and two rare models, which could be three pins among 15 kinds of Bing Dwen Dwen performing various winter sports such as skiing, skeleton and snowboarding, as well as two versions of the official emblem and one poster of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The mystery boxes were developed by Animoca, the developer of the Sandbox, one of the most popular global metaverse games, with authorization from the International Olympic Committee.

The digital release also comes amid a short supply of physical Bing Dwen Dwen souvenirs, as illustrated by fans waiting and lining up at stores for hours to buy its peripheral products and factories operating at full capacity to keep up with the demand. 

Such Bing Dwen Dwen fever has now spread to the digital world. And some digital investors said they are "more than prepared" both technologically and financially to snap up NFT pins, anticipating at least threefold appreciation in short-time valuation. 

"I'm all in and plan to buy five, the quota. I have bought similar Olympic-featured NFTs but most of them depreciated. But this time I believe things will be quite different, as the Beijing Olympic is trending and Bing Dwen Dwen has become a global phenomenon," a Beijing-based crypto investor who preferred not to be identified, told the Global Times on Friday.

Another Shenzhen-based founder of a blockchain company said he hopes the second batch of Bing Dwen Dwen-themed NFTs will be launched soon, with more diversified costumes and larger issuance volume.

"Virtually every investor I know is talking about this release, so the buyers' group - consisting of investors at home and abroad - is unimaginably large and the chances of getting one NFT is very slim," he told the Global Times on Friday, also suggesting the NFT developer draw on the Bored Ape model, one of the world's most prestigious and successful NFT collections in the world. Among the collection, each Ape NFT corresponds to a cartoon customized with unique color schemes, facial expressions, and outfits.

Enthusiastic Chinese mainland investors are in a rush to see how to purchase Bing Dwen Dwen NFTs in a foreign NFT exchange on social media platforms. In a Chinese-written comment left on a post of nWayPlay's Twitter account, a user named Gezhe asked "I really want to buy one but still don't know how even after researching for half a day. Could a 'big brother' please communicate with and teach me?"   

On China's Twitter-like Weibo, similar questions have also been raised in recent days on every piece of news related to the NFTs.

Industry observers said that compared with physical souvenirs, blockchain-based NFTs are able to give a better IP protection thanks to its tamper-proof function. 

"The application of digital technology on the one hand benefits IP protection and is conducive for preservation; on the other, it also reaches more international audiences and accelerates the conveying of the Olympic spirit and China's soft power," Wang Peng, a professor at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Prior to the Olympics, several Chinese business partners of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games including Alibaba and Anta launched NFT collections last week. 

Industry observers said that the eagerness for NFTs among investors mirrors the potential of China's burgeoning digital economy. 

According to the 14th Five-year plan (2021-25) issued by the State Council, China's cabinet, the added value of the key digital economy is expected to account for 10 percent of China's GDP by 2025, up from 7.8 percent in 2020. This is the first time that the digital economy has been listed as a single chapter in the five-year plan.

"Big sports gatherings like the Beijing Olympics are a chance to showcase China's digital prowess and further integrate digital technology with economic development. Such a combination drives up social consumption and speeds up industry growth," Wang explained. He predicted that aside from sports events, cultural and tourism activities will see the rise of digital technology in the future.