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Token2049 - Singapore 2023, How Asia is Driving Blockchain & Crypto Innovation

October 9, 2023

Hello, Coco again.

In September, I had initially intended to attend the Permissionless conference in Austin, TX. However, I changed my plans and embarked on a 28-hour journey to Singapore for Token2049. I'm very glad I made that decision. The trip was a much-needed mental break from the regulatory challenges and unfriendly climate I have been experiencing for some time in the U.S.

While in Singapore, I had the opportunity to attend some well-organized private events such as “HashKey Space Homerun (click to watch the replay)” hosted by HashKey Capital. I also had the chance to connect with a group of Berkeley alumni who are startup founders and industry practitioners. Two themes recurred most in my conversations - RWA (Real-World-Assets) and Vietnam, which stands out as one of the most robust countries in Southeast Asia for grassroots adoption of Web3.

Singapore Token2049 attracted a staggering 10,000 official attendees and countless thousands more from all over the world who attended 400+ additional events during the week. People seemed to have forgotten that 3AC and Do Kwon’s TerraForm Labs were Singapore-based companies. Their names rarely came up in conversations, unless specifically inquired about. I also heard that 3AC's two partners had declined to cooperate with bankruptcy procedures. On a positive note, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) remains committed to growing the industry, evidenced by the recent full licenses granted to Coinbase and Ripple to operate in Singapore.

Developments in U.S. crypto regulations both interested and concerned people. I encountered startup founders from Asia and Europe who expressed their hesitancy about considering the U.S. as a base, at least for the time being.

During my time in Singapore, I became aware of the challenges faced by some U.S. founders who had been enticed by financial incentives from Hong Kong regulators to relocate to the city. For example, they encountered difficulties in opening bank accounts with local financial institutions.

Other noteworthy observations include the prominent presence of women within the Asian blockchain industry and the relatively U.S.-centric focus of U.S. venture funds in this sector compared to their Asian counterparts.

During private conversations with attendees from Mainland China, I discovered something astonishing: despite China's outright crypto ban, people are still actively and extensively engaged in the crypto space.

To learn more about the feedback of Token2049, I recommend the summary by Ken and Anju.

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