Only by further lowering the barriers to entry for Web3 and allowing more people to understand and use Web3’s products can a thriving virtual asset industry and ecosystem develop in Hong Kong.
Recently, the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau of Hong Kong released the Policy Declaration on the Development of Virtual Assets in Hong Kong at Hong Kong FinTech Week, which has become one of the hottest topics in Web3 circles recently.
Compared with previous years, this year’s Hong Kong Fintech Week also has many more Web3 practitioners on the scene, NFT entrepreneur Fu Rao is one of them.
At the event, the Hong Kong government issued the FinTech Week NFT for the first time. Fu Rao is the 58th user to receive this NFT. According to him, “There are actually very few people at the scene to collect this NFT, I see that a total of 103 have only been taken away now, and there must be thousands of people at the scene.”
Judging from the receipt of NFTs in Hong Kong Fintech Week, Fu Rao believes that the speed of real virtual assets “out of the circle” is far less than the temporary waves caused by a paper policy.
“It is estimated that the way to receive it is still a bit cumbersome, and many people do not know how to operate.”
In the view of several Hong Kong Web3 entrepreneurs and practitioners in the dialogue of “Chain New”, only by further lowering the entry threshold of Web3 and allowing more people to understand and use Web3 products can it be possible to develop a thriving virtual asset industry and ecosystem in Hong Kong. This is also the direction of the concerted efforts of practitioners and the Hong Kong government.
Web3 popularization in Hong Kong: from celebrities bringing goods to NFT ATM landing
In early October, shortly before Hong Kong issued its virtual asset development policy declaration, Fu Rao had just returned to Hong Kong from the mainland.
In 2017, Fu Rao resigned from a central enterprise in the mainland and came to Hong Kong and began to contact the blockchain industry, from the earliest investment opportunities in various projects such as coins, chains, mines, and exchanges, to later starting a business to establish a blockchain think tank research institute, Hong Kong International New Economy Research Institute.
In 2019, Fu Rao became one of the first people to issue NFTs in Hong Kong, and one of the important projects was to help Stephen Chow’s 12 movies make NFTs, but the project was later suspended due to market problems.
“At that time, there was no NFT term, but it was called ERC-721 and ERC-1155.” Fu Rao believes that compared with projects such as CryptoPunks and Bored Ape in Europe and the United States, Hong Kong has actually made explorations in NFT very early, and Hong Kong is not outdated in terms of business model innovation.
Due to the epidemic, Fu Rao returned to Shenzhen for two years. This time in Hong Kong, in less than a month, Fu Rao has negotiated with three institutions that are very interested in issuing NFTs, including jewelers, exhibition ticketing and local sports chain brands.
Being able to do business in Hong Kong so smoothly has a lot to do with the increasing recognition of NFT among local brands and the public in recent years. NFT is often seen on bus advertisements moving on the street, and Pacific Place can directly swipe a credit card to buy NFTs, “how much money do you earn investing in NFT” and “what NFTs did you buy” have gradually become the topic of more young people meeting and chatting.
Fu Rao was deeply touched by this: “When I returned to Hong Kong this time, I found that the small environment of Web3 is very active. What everyone is doing is thinking about how to make Web3 more out of the circle, so that users who are not Web3 start to become Web3 users. ”
From Yu Wenle, Edison Chan and other Hong Kong celebrities investing in NFTs on the news media, to the recent recruitment post of Stephen Chow on social platforms to “find outstanding Web3 talents in the dark”, local public figures have played a role in promoting the popularity of new things.
Contributing to the popularity of the NFT concept in Hong Kong is the continuous emergence of NFT ATMs in public places. This is what another Web3 entrepreneur, Ricky Lo, is doing, namely how to lower the barrier to entry for the Web3 ecosystem through physical, offline NFT ATMs.
Before entering the Web3 field, Ricky has accumulated 7 or 8 years of entrepreneurial experience in developing mobile payment in Hong Kong. At that time, hand-in-hand teaching store cashiers to identify the blue logo is Alipay and the green pattern is WeChat Pay, which laid an important foundation for the transformation of Hong Kong’s financial industry to online, and also inspired Ricky to promote virtual asset trading business offline.
This year’s Hong Kong Digital Art Fair will be on display from October 20 to November 6. Ricky’s company team Hunter and partner DARTrader moved NFT ATMs at the show, making a new attempt to popularize Web3 art. During the show, Ricky’s team unveiled NFTs with custom avatars, with a total of more than 1,000 free distributions over a two-week period.
In addition, there is an NFT called Schoolio on NFT ATMs that sells 1,000 pieces on consignment, and has sold more than half. Schoolio is an NFT jointly launched by a consortium of 7 secondary schools in Hong Kong, and graduates of the secondary school alliance can not only get the certification of school graduate status, but also participate in offline and academic activities of the school alliance when purchasing this NFT.
Ricky said that the original intention of the development of offline NFT ATMs is not for old users who are already Web3, but for “whites”.
Users who buy on NFT ATMs do not necessarily need a wallet, but can also use a mobile phone number to buy, after the purchase is completed, the user’s mobile phone will receive a text message with an NFT address link, the whole process only takes tens of seconds to operate, greatly reducing the entry threshold for NFT novices.
At present, such NFT ATMs have been laid out in 30 locations in Hong Kong, schools, restaurants, bars, shopping malls, co-creation spaces, and the NFT options provided by NFT ATMs placed in each place will also have a focus.
Traditional financiers have transformed into the crypto world
One of the conveniences of Ricky doing NFT ATM business in Hong Kong is that setting up an ATM in Hong Kong is not subject to financial license restrictions.
Globally, Hong Kong is one of the leading “specialists” in the financial services industry. In the traditional financial field, Hong Kong, New York and London together cover 24-hour trading hours around the world, becoming one of the world’s three major financial centers, and also allowing Hong Kong to gather a large number of financial talents.
In 2018, Joey, who has a background in statistics, studied graduate school in Hong Kong. At the time of graduation, he had many options for working in the traditional financial field, investment banking, and brokerage, but Joey finally entered the crypto industry, which was not widely recognized by most of his classmates at the time.
Joey successfully entered a major cryptocurrency exchange to do quantitative trading. From the perspective of secondary market transactions, the traditional financial industry has regulatory compliance constraints on practitioners’ trading behavior, while the crypto industry gives each practitioner more individual opportunities. In addition to enriching his trading strategy, Joey also exposed himself to the fundamentals of the cryptocurrency community and began to understand blockchain and the technology behind various cryptocurrency projects.
Most of Joey’s classmates chose to enter the traditional financial field after graduation, when they did not know about cryptocurrencies and did not want to actively learn about them, or remained on the sidelines. However, after the third halving of Bitcoin, the overall market capitalization of cryptocurrencies continued to hit new highs, and many friends began to consult Joey about investment channels, and even took the initiative to get involved in DEFI. Purely from the phenomenon point of view, this industry is gradually known and accepted by more people, although some people may only be a temporary FOMO, but some people have precipitated. Overall, Hong Kong people are more open and positive about cryptocurrencies than before.
Joey said: “Forecasting is an important part of a trader’s work, and industry forecasts are also instructive for trading behavior. Generally speaking, the influx of high-tech talents is a positive signal for the development of the industry, and it can be seen that more and more graduates from prestigious universities are going to the web3 track. ”
Hong Kong’s unique advantages in developing Web3 are not only reflected in the fact that there are more financial talents transforming the crypto industry, but also that people here have relatively high financial literacy and investment awareness.
Fu Rao said that although the total local population of Hong Kong is small, only more than 7 million, the value of a single customer is very high.
From the perspective of an ordinary individual investor, the biggest convenience Joey feels is the flow of capital, that is, the deposit and withdrawal are relatively free, for example, Hong Kong identity can obtain KYC (identity verification) of many crypto exchanges.
Before the policy announcement on the development of virtual assets, Hong Kong’s attitude towards the entire industry was still relatively vague, and many retail investors were eager to participate in virtual currency trading but were afraid of the risk of breaking the law.
In the NFT ATM launched by Ricky, not only can NFT trading, but also some mainstream cryptocurrencies can be bought and sold, but before the government’s attitude was not very clear, Ricky did not vigorously promote cryptocurrency trading on NFT ATMs for fear of trouble.
Ricky mentioned: “At the beginning of the year, there was news that the Hong Kong government would launch a license related to virtual currency, but the threshold for license application seemed to be very high, and we did not vigorously promote it according to this news at that time, and even some ATMs directly removed the cryptocurrency trading function. ”
The Policy Statement on the Development of Virtual Assets in Hong Kong states: “We note that global investors, whether institutional or retail, accept virtual assets as an asset that can be used as an investment allocation. The Securities and Futures Commission will launch a public consultation on the appropriateness of the virtual assets that retail investors can trade in under the new licensing regime. ”
Ricky believes that the policy declaration is conducive to retail participation in cryptocurrency trading, and anyone will have the opportunity to participate in it, which is necessary to lower the barrier to entry for Web3.
Leave Singapore or stay in Hong Kong?
Since the first half of this year, Joey has had five or six colleagues around him work in Singapore. Some of their peers work in Web3 agencies with a global layout, because the job location is transferred to Singapore, and some because the organization itself has moved to an overseas layout.
The exchange platform where Joey works is currently recruiting people on a large scale in Southeast Asian countries, Singapore and Thailand have successively launched some favorable policies for the crypto industry, coupled with the lower labor costs in many Southeast Asian countries, which directly pose a threat to the development of the crypto industry in Hong Kong. Therefore, she believes that the Hong Kong government’s policy statement may also be a remedial measure for the capital and brain drain over time.
Joey also did not rule out the possibility of going to other countries or regions to work on Web3, although the policy released by Hong Kong is still quite strong in terms of rhetoric, but it remains to be seen how it will be implemented.
Joey has always felt that Hong Kong’s crypto scene has a “tepid” climate — it’s not the most visible center of global circles, but there’s a group of people who do things all the time.
In fact, Tether, the parent company of USDT, the world’s largest market capitalization stablecoin, the well-known exchanges Bitfinix and FTX, many giant projects in the crypto field started in Hong Kong, and in recent years, Hong Kong has also given birth to many new blockchain start-ups and crypto investment institutions. All this proves that Hong Kong has the potential to incubate Web3.
Joey will also be in Hong Kong for a while, and may consider a change of location afterwards. “I’m long-term bullish on the crypto industry as a whole, but I’m open to location.”
Ricky also feels that in the past two years, there have been more and more friends who have gone overseas to develop, including Singapore, Dubai, and some to third world countries. Ricky believes that Hong Kong’s policy attitude in the past year is relatively vague, and Singapore has given a clear positive signal half a year earlier than Hong Kong, which has indeed attracted a wave of people to pass, but the epidemic is also a very important reason, Singapore has been liberalized, no need to quarantine or wear masks, so it is not entirely the role of policy “gravitational waves”.
Ricky will choose to be based in Hong Kong and expand his business overseas. At present, in addition to being launched in Hong Kong, NFT ATMs have some partners in Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia and Laos and Europe, and next year’s key tasks include cooperating with Cambodian consulates to place NFT ATMs in local tourist resorts.
In the past two years, Fu Rao has also frequently traveled between Hong Kong and Singapore, and he feels that the movement between the two places is already frequent and normal, and Hong Kong has more advantages than Singapore in terms of the number of listed companies and capital activity.
“Maybe the conference TOKEN2049 was held in September, attracting a group of people from all over the world to Singapore, but whether or not the capital can be kept is another matter. Everyone went there to open an office, and I feel that the most profitable people in this wave are probably local real estate agents, headhunters and accountant lawyers. ”
On October 31, the day Hong Kong released the virtual asset development policy declaration, Fu Rao participated in an online event to interpret Hong Kong’s blockbuster new crypto policy, and Sun Yuchen said at the event that he would return to Hong Kong from Singapore after the policy came out. “I don’t know if he’s serious, but he did have such a statement.”
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/web3-practitioners-in-hong-kong-leave-singapore-or-choose-to-stay/
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