The metropolis’s prime official, Chief Executive John Lee, was there to debate how the town might reinvent itself as a know-how hub and capitalize on the massive bets it has remodeled the previous yr on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Yat Siu, founding father of Animoca Brands, a homegrown Web3 startup that was clearly the star of the two-day occasion, informed the viewers on Friday, “This is the closing of a darkish chapter of the business … now we are able to begin shifting ahead.”
I attended panel after panel the place folks mentioned the way forward for tokenized belongings, central-bank digital currencies, and even NFTs—beaming with hopes that’d be exhausting to seek out within the US. It felt as if I’d jumped right into a time machine; the executives of worldwide crypto heavyweights like Crypto.com and Bored Ape Yacht Club attended the convention in individual, whereas the CEO of Coinbase videoed in for a hearth chat. (I’ve to say I’m glad I didn’t go to the BAYC party, a facet occasion taking place on the similar time, which apparently left many attendees with “severe eye burn.” Ouch.)
For these execs, Hong Kong is a uncommon place the place the federal government is welcoming them. Following main crypto failures final yr just like the collapse of FTX and Terra, and reports concerning the worthlessness of NFTs, many governments and observers have grown cautious of the business. But for Hong Kong, this new digital frontier looks like a chance to rewire its economic system.
The metropolis used to punch above its weight in finance and commerce, however its significance in these sectors has been falling. And as tech industries have powered exponential progress in locations like Shenzhen (which is correct throughout the border in mainland China), Hong Kong has missed out on a lot of that growth. Crypto, although, might provide a comparatively simple pivot.
During the FinTech Week final yr, the native authorities launched its personal NFTs and a tokenized bond. Since then, leaders of world Web3 initiatives have visited Hong Kong and explored investing there, says Gary Liu, founding father of two Hong Kong–primarily based Web3 startups, Terminal3 and Artifacts Lab. “While everybody else is in a bear market, Hong Kong is rising up,” he says.