Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.
Token 2049, one of the largest crypto conferences of the year, attracted a record 10,000 attendees, 300 speakers and 5,000 companies during the two-day event in Singapore.
From Sept. 13-14, attendees entering the majestic Marina Bay Sands Convention Expo and Center were greeted by the energetic beats from the Polyhedra DJ, then to a hall of booths showcasing the latest innovation in the blockchain industry. Aside from the main show, over 400 side events took place this year.
Among the biggest announcements during the event, KXVC, a subsidiary of Kasikornbank, the largest bank in Thailand with 20 million customers, launched a $100 million fund dedicated to Web3, AI and deep tech firms based in Southeast Asia. KXVC wrote:
“For Web3, KXVC targets Web3 infrastructures, nodes validators, RPC providers, middlewares, modularity technologies, privacy, ZKP, wallets, alternative L1/L2s, shared securities, LsdFi and consumerization of NFTs.”
As for AI, the firm said it would prioritize investing in “consumer-focused AI, cybersecurity, AI/ML tools (e.g., deployment platforms, data annotation, model optimization), and problem-specific AI startups.”
The fund will be led by Krating Poonpol group chairman of Kasikorn Business Technology Group, and Jom Vimolnoht, managing director of KXVC. According to KXVC, Poonpol has over 100 investments, four unicorns, and 10 exits across five funds as a venture capitalist. Meanwhile, Vimolnoht has managed $400 million in startup investments and has backed 35 startups in the region.
Token2049 Main Event in Singapore (Cointelegraph)
On Sept. 15, Ethereum layer-two scaling solution Mantle Network,launcheda $200 million development fund for ecosystem acceleration. Among the first recipients are LiquidX, an application layer-focused venture studio building Web3 companies; Valent, a decentralized money market exploring liquid staking derivatives finance (LSDFi); and Range Protocol, an all-in-one on-chain asset management platform and ecosystem.
Previously known as BitDAO, the Mantle Network has been a maverick in reinvigorating blockchain communities, with the launch of a $500 million blockchain gaming fund in November 2021.
In May 2023, BitDAO (BIT) passed a “One brand, One token” unity governance proposal rebranding the network to Mantle with 235 million BIT tokens voting yes and 988 BIT voting no.
Token2049’s OKX Main Stage (Cointelegraph)
A new decentralized autonomous organization, dubbed CoffeeDAO, is partnering with cafes around the world to unravel their market potential in exchange for free coffee.
In a live demonstration at Chye Seng Huat Hardware coffee store in Singapore, Cheney Cheng, co-founder of CoffeeDAO, showed Cointelegraph how to receive up to four free coffees at the store with a simple scan of a bar code, yielding four COFFEE tokens minted on Polygon, which could then be directly exchanged for coffee. Not only do customers receive airdrop tokens per visit, but the “loyalty points” can then be spent at other cafes.
According to Cheney, the concept is all about the neighborhood, which would allow community-based mom-and-pop stores to compete with the likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s. Customers aside, a referral program exists where individuals can receive up to 200 COFFEE tokens (200 cups of espresso) for onboarding cafes to the program. So far, over 15 cafes have partnered with CoffeeDAO throughout Singapore and Hong Kong.
CoffeeDAO at the Chye Seng Huat Hardware coffee store in Singapore (Cointelegraph)
Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi Global is changing its name to a word where “H” represents the first letter of Huobi, “T” represents Justin Sun’s blockchain project Tron, and “X” represents the exchange’s 10th anniversary; the new name also happens to be eerily similar to the now bankrupt crypto exchange FTX.
According to the Sept. 13announcement, the rebranding coincides with the exchange’s goals in its new era to further “global expansion, thriving ecosystem, wealth effect and security and compliance.”
Justin Sun, de facto owner of HTX, said during a Token2049 press conference that the new name is also designed for non-Chinese users of the exchange, citing the difficulty of pronouncing “Huobi” for foreigners.
HTX has been in turmoil since the beginning of the year, shortly after Sun acquired the exchange and reportedly crushed an employee revolt. Despite touting stellar revenue and profit figures, Edward Chen, managing director of HTX Ventures, revealed that the exchange had cut its staff count down to 900 from 2,500 at the beginning of the year. Last month, the exchange denied it was close to insolvency and that Chinese police had arrested its senior executives.
It seems that some mild justice has finally arrived for Zhu Su and Kyle Davies, both co-founders of Singaporean crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC), who blew up the $3.5 billion firm in 2022 and then embarked on a game of catch-me-if-you-can with creditors.
In a September 14 statement, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) reprimanded both Zhu and Davies, barring the two from enterprise activities in the city-state’s regulated capital markets for nine years. As told by the MAS, the misconduct includes:
“(i) Providing false information to MAS [on 3AC]; (ii) failing to notify MAS about changes to Mr Zhu’s and Mr Davies’ directorship and shareholdings; and (iii) exceeding the assets under management threshold allowed for a registered fund management company.”
More than a year later, 3AC’s bankruptcy is still ongoing, and no criminal complaints have been filed against either Davies or Zhu in any jurisdiction. Last month, an embarrassing mistake that assumed Davies was a U.S. instead of a Singaporean citizen invalidated Davies’ court service in U.S. bankruptcy courts, which have cost over $30 million to date. Both Davies and Zhu have now been served in Singaporean courts.
3AC co-founders Kyle Davies (first from left) and Zhu Su (second from left) (Twitter)