The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region has been a powerhouse in 2023 for Web3 innovation and adoption. From fostering capital inflow into Web3 media and investment and hosting some of the world’s largest blockchain events to spearheading the convergence of traditional finance and decentralized finance (DeFi), the APAC region has shown remarkable energy and momentum, and set the stage for the next bull market cycle in the crypto world.
Media and investment: The epicenter of APAC momentum
APAC investment has been accelerating in a year when global investment in Web3 seemed to be slowing down.
A prime example is Singapore-based Foresight Ventures’s acquisition of The Block — a top-tier crypto news and data provider — for a whopping $70 million. This investment firm, specializing in blockchain technology and crypto businesses, has portfolio holdings that include Galxe, SEI and Story Protocol. Moreover, they have previously invested in APAC-based crypto media companies like BlockTempo from Taiwan and CoinNess from Korea.
This trend in media investment extends to the rise of APAC media companies like Blockhead and Coinlive, both hailing from Singapore, and further emphasizing the region’s influence in shaping the global Web3 narrative.
The APAC region has also become a global stage for significant Web3 events.
TOKEN2049, held in Singapore, has emerged as the world’s largest Web3 event in 2023, attracting over 10,000 attendees, 5,000 companies, 300 exhibitors and 450 side events. Similarly, Korean Blockchain Week and Hong Kong Fintech Week have drawn significant attention, further reinforcing the region’s position as a global hub for blockchain and Web3 discourse. These events serve as a testament to APAC’s burgeoning influence in crypto space.
The importance of these developments cannot be overstated — these investments, acquisitions, events and the emergence of local media outlets signal strong institutional support for Web3 within APAC, bolstering the region’s position as a pivotal player in the next wave of crypto adoption.
Bridging the gap between TradFi and DeFi
Financial institutions in the APAC region have moved swiftly to bridge the gap between traditional finance and DeFi.
UBS has allowed wealthy clients to trade crypto ETFs in Hong Kong, marking a significant move in embracing DeFi. Meanwhile, HSBC has added fuel to the tokenization fire with a gold-focused offering, using distributed ledger technology to trade tokenized ownership of physical gold. In Asia, people love gold products as the symbol of prosperity and reserved fortune that can be passed to the next generation. As one of the most trusted brands in Hong Kong, HSBC’s decision to tokenize ownership of gold addresses Asian investors’ culture preferences and investment needs. These moves signal the region’s forward-thinking approach in integrating digital assets into the traditional financial system.
Clear and consistent regulatory guidelines
Clear and consistent regulatory guidelines have complemented the APAC region’s growth in the crypto space.
Hong Kong, for instance, officially opened crypto trading to retail investors, granting its first licenses to HashKey and OSL. In Singapore, Ripple secured a crypto payments license to bolster its growth in the APAC region, and Coinbase obtained a Major Payment Institution license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore. These developments underscore the region’s commitment to fostering a regulatory environment that benefits consumers and crypto projects alike.
Read more from our opinion section: Crypto builders, please sweat the small stuff
As we reflect on the past year, the lessons from the APAC region are clear. The future of Web3 is not just about technology; it’s also about fostering a supportive ecosystem that includes investment, events, regulatory clarity and integration with traditional finance. It’s about regions like APAC driving the next wave of crypto adoption and setting the stage for the next bull market cycle.
As we look towards what 2024 can bring for crypto, SocialFi seems poised to play a crucial role in the next wave of crypto adoption, particularly in the APAC region.
Why? People in this region, many of whom have extensive experience with WeChat, already have a mental model and set of expectations about how social media, messenger services and value — natively digital value — can seamlessly integrate. And, according to Bain & Company, almost 70% of people in Southeast Asia had used at least one metaverse-related tech in 2011.
This familiarity leads to faster adoption of SocialFi products in the APAC region. Consider this: Nearly everyone’s smartphone is a hub of social media apps, yet astonishingly, the top Web3 initiatives haven’t tapped into SocialFi yet. This, in my view, represents a colossal and untapped market opportunity for APAC in the coming years.
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