(Yicai Global) March 30 -- China’s largest e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. yesterday unveiled and then hastily withdrew a test digital marketing platform yesterday amid claims the system’s incentive system was very similar to those associated with initial coin offerings, a key target of the country’s regulators in recent times.
The Majibao system allows buyers and sellers on the Hangzhou-based firm’s commerce platforms to participate in marketing activities and receive equity certificates, it said as Alibaba announced the start of internal testing yesterday. Sellers can use the tokens to gain marketing privileges and web traffic resources.
Social media users were quick to draw similarities with virtual currency issuance tools. Alibaba responded stating Majibao was unrelated to blockchain technology, while also confirming the system's withdrawal.
Alibaba stated in the original launch announcement that the system allows buyers to exchange the certificates for coupons and shopping vouchers, while stressing that they cannot be used for legal tender or virtual currency. Last year, China's regulators banned all forms of ICO to guard against criminal activities such as illegal fund-raising.
In a follow-up response the same day, Alibaba reiterated that Majibao is purely a task distribution system in the internal testing stage, capable of helping e-commerce users to gain bonus points. These points may not be traded and have nothing to do with blockchain technology.
Alibaba took the system offline and asked for users to await the release of its official version.