The curious case of Yendai

October 20, 2018 (Sat). Pinyin domains are sought after in corporate China. It's the number one choice for the 2018 Top 100 Chinese Internet Companies, and the majority of them are 2-pin domains. Well known examples are,, and Today I'll talk about the curious case of YenDai.

This name came across my desk recently when I was asked to comment on it. At a glance, YenDai looks very attractive. It's 2-pin and has only 6 characters long. It can even be pronounced without much difficulty outside China.

However, if you do some basic research, you'll discover a major issue -- the name is actually not Pinyin-based. How did I know? I started by checking ownership information of and, using a domain ownership tool called I was surprised to find that both and were not registered. After all these years, could good Pinyin domains still be available for registration? That's curious!

You can also check the Pinyin issue by using Yabla, which in this case shows no entry on Yen but plenty on Dai. The result indicates that "yen" is not a Pinyin word.

You can also use Baidu search to explore further. When I tried, Baidu search on "yendai" displayed on the second page the domain, suggesting the name is associated with Taiwan. In fact, "yen" is commonly used in Taiwan. For example, a former president of Taiwan was the late Yen Chia-kan (嚴家淦). Taiwan uses a romanization method of Chinese characters different from the Pinyin-based system used in mainland China.

Nevertheless, would be a good upgrade for the company currently operating on For domain investors, however, they need to be aware that Taiwan is small within the Chinese speaking world. If they want to invest in Pinyin domains, then they must make sure the domains they are going to acquire are really Pinyin but not something else, as shown in the case of Yendai.

In summary, acquiring Pinyin domains is a challenge. You need a good understanding of the Chinese language. You also need to know that while Pinyin is the dominant system, there are also other ways of spelling Chinese characters in letters.

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