Ant Financial Services Group, Alibaba's payment affiliate and operator of AliPay, has taken a critical stance over initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Eric Jing, Ant Financial's CEO, speaking during a speech at the annual China Development Forum on March 24 in Beijing, said that much of the existing blockchain enthusiasm comes from speculation around the concept of blockchain.
Jing suggested that many projects behind initial coin offerings can provide nothing but a poor white paper, and he appeared to rule out the possibility of his firm holding an ICO.
"The current phase is like the internet bubble period in the 1990s," Jing said, adding, "Ant Financial has drawn a clear line with ICOs."
According to local media source The Paper, the CEO further explained that, while he believes in blockchain's potential as a trust mechanism for the future digitalized society, the current bubble is very likely to burst in the next two to three years. Only after that will the industry be able see real blockchain applications come into place, he said.
A notable internet entrepreneur in China, Jing is a long time veteran of the Alibaba Group, having helped to grow the AliPay business, as well as its operator, Ant Financial. The latter firm made headlines last year for its thwarted attempt to buy U.S. payment service MoneyGram.
Despite the criticism of ICOs, Alibaba has made moves into the blockchain space, taking a focus on technological development. As reported previously, Ant Financial has already developed a blockchain-powered platform for charity donations.
In his comments, Jing said that one of the main blockchain focuses for Ant Financial going forward will be to work on cross-blockchain compatibility.
Furthermore, according to data disclosed by China's State Intellectual Property Office, Alibaba Group has now filed around 50 blockchain-related patent applications, which are pending approval.