The day after his conviction, I used to be at Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023, a brand new annual convention hosted by the native authorities. In contrast to individuals within the US, the place the SBF trial is only one extra episode within the extended crypto winter, these in Hong Kong had been feeling rather more optimistic about all issues Web3.
Town’s prime official, Chief Government John Lee, was there to debate how the town may reinvent itself as a know-how hub and capitalize on the massive bets it has revamped the previous 12 months on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Yat Siu, founding father of Animoca Manufacturers, a homegrown Web3 startup that was clearly the star of the two-day occasion, informed the viewers on Friday, “That is the closing of a darkish chapter of the trade … now we are able to begin transferring ahead.”
I attended panel after panel the place individuals mentioned the way forward for tokenized property, 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 Membership attended the convention in particular person, whereas the CEO of Coinbase videoed in for a fireplace chat. (I’ve to say I’m glad I didn’t go to the BAYC occasion, a aspect occasion taking place on the identical time, which apparently left many attendees with “extreme 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 12 months just like the collapse of FTX and Terra, and stories in regards to the worthlessness of NFTs, many governments and observers have grown cautious of the trade. However for Hong Kong, this new digital frontier looks as if a chance to rewire its economic system.
Town 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 development in locations like Shenzhen (which is true throughout the border in mainland China), Hong Kong has missed out on a lot of that increase. Crypto, although, may supply a comparatively straightforward pivot.
In the course of the FinTech Week final 12 months, 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. “Whereas everybody else is in a bear market, Hong Kong is rising up,” he says.