There’s a unique crypto competition taking place in Asia. This isn’t your generic project opportunities inviting individuals to participate for the chance to claim grand token prizes or once in a lifetime allocations; there is something much greater taking place, with potentially immense opportunities arising for the crypto universe.
Countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines are entangled in a race to each build the ‘Crypto Valley of Asia’ within their own borders, along with other Asian Pacific countries, who will unquestionably enter the fray along with their individual cities.
The goal of these countries is ambitious. Asia’s Crypto Valley is designed to be the equivalent to what Silicon Valley equates to Tech; the very best and most promising companies within the cryptocurrency sphere are supposed to converge there, execute business with each other and most importantly, elevate individual business status and understanding through both shared mutual collaboration and competition.
The strategy behind this thought of thinking is very reasonable. Even if blockchain and cryptocurrency for the large part are meant to be decentralized, it is still much more favorable to the cryptocurrency industry to be centralized in favor of a single city. The platform for face-to-face meetings, work in-person and crucially experience the serendipitous encounters that are commonplace in Silicon Valley are vital. The foundations for any company, even for ones on the cutting edge of technology above all, are people.
Great Progress Being Made
In the northern Philippines, as part of the governments mandate to foster a vibrant fintech economy able to attract the brightest and best from around the globe to lay base in their country, the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) is expected to launch the creation of a new crypto hub.
The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority has the backing from at least 25 tech companies to initiate the project, which accommodates an internet data center, self-sustaining power production structure and a ‘blockchain academy’ training facility. The CEZA CEO, Raul Lambino, has stated the project will create 10,000 jobs for the local economy.
There is already a commitment of $100 million to be invested into the project over the course of a decade. The idea behind the initiative is to encourage an economic boom which will champion high numbers of Philippine’s citizens to pursue careers within the technology sector. Concurrently the move is aiming to employ third-party businesses which will cater to the burgeoning cryptocurrency and fintech sectors.
The chairman of industry group FintechAlliance, Lito Villanueva, stated the influx of digital startups had created this growing competition among Asian countries to develop blockchain and financial technology hubs.
The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission has taken a significant step by allowing ICOs in the country. In August, the body introduced draft regulations that treat coin offerings as securities. The rules on token sales will have similarities to those for an initial public offering.
South Korea has also made their intentions clear.
According to the Korea JoongAng Daily, the governor of Jeju Island, Won Hee-ryong has requested special blockchain and cryptocurrency designation status for the island.
“Blockchain is an opportunity for Korea to take the lead in global internet platform development,” Won said during a meeting, while making clear his proposal that the central government, the provincial government of Jeju Island and private experts for a task force, discuss the best implementation methods in allowing the island to become a cryptocurrency hub in Korea.
“Blockchain can cut costs, provide stable transactions and essentially has the potential to become a game changer that could alter the ecosystem of the internet platform industry,” Won further said. “For Korea to become a leader rather than a consumer of this new global industry, we need to allow the operation of blockchain and cryptocurrency firms quickly.”
The Korean government also plans to invest approximately $4.4 billion in 2019, on eight pilot projects and the development of a platform economy based on extensive data analytics. The country has also allocated a $100 million fund to develop the capital, Seoul, into a center of blockchain innovation. Park Won-soon, the governor of Seoul, while visiting Switzerland’s Zug, announced the government’s objective to launch a Blockchain Urban Plan for 2018-2022.
Thailand is also making great strides in enticing fintech companies to invest in the country.
Since the beginning of the year, the Thai government has become increasingly confident and welcoming of cryptocurrency projects and exchanges. In the space of a few short months, Thai regulators have made substantial progress- from the setting up of cryptocurrency company licenses to allowing exchanges and even ICOs. Crucially the country has invited foreign companies’ investment by providing clear and accurate guidelines in which the environment that foreign blockchain companies can operate.
In June, the Thai government legalized seven cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin cash, Ethereum classic, Litecoin, Ripple, and Stellar). It has further allowed a limited number of cryptocurrency exchanges and broker-dealers to apply for operating licenses. This was followed up more also in July when the Thailand SEC permitted additional applications for digital token issuers. While in the same month the SEC made clear three categories of ICOs: utility tokens, investment tokens, and cryptocurrency. As the obvious progression from the timeline indicates, the speed and execution of these decisions by the regulators are superior from that of the majority of Western and Asian nations.
The type of regulatory engagement within Thailand is auspicious signs for the nation, where regulators have quickly and efficiently provided a legal path for blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies.
There could be a case made that Japan, is currently ahead of its Asian rivals in regards to the development of a friendly cryptocurrency hub. Numerous Japanese companies have taken advantage of the technology and regulation to raise funds; however, following the $500 million+ theft from the Coincheck cryptocurrency exchange earlier in the year, combined with the staunch public demand for investor protections, the government has started to announce further regulation tightening of the industry.
Could There Be Further Advancements Made?
While the motivation to build an Asian Crypto Valley is an extremely positive development for the industry, there is an argument that the public and private leaders responsible for these initiatives to be even more ambitious. For a better understanding, what would a successful Asian Crypto Valley look like? The best scenario has regional offices of the upper echelon of Western crypto companies, along with a scattering of homegrown companies, especially during the inception.
There would be the creation of high-value jobs for the local population and economy, patronize existing small business in the area, and pump money back into the city via taxes. However, as these benefits would predominantly be relevant to the host city of each country’s Crypto Valley, there is an opportunity for more grandiose economic thinking.
So what is the realistic option that offers more significant benefits than a Crypto Valley?
Currently, there is a particular connotation to the phase- generally referring to traditional tourist havens, like resorts payable with cryptocurrency or trips with high-worth crypto rollers and in some cases both. Examples of companies within the crypto tourism industry include CryptoCribs (similar to Airbnb) and Blockchain Cruise.
Crypto Tourism Could Offer So Much More
Crypto tourism could potentiate even bigger positives, as countries like Switzerland are beginning to realize. Instead of Silicon Valley is the correct analogy, a more suitable one would be Hollywood. At the most basic level, Hollywood is a hub or a collection of various talents from acting, writing, directing to special effects and stunts. However, Hollywood, more importantly, is also an ideal, a way of life, and its why so many people worldwide continually gather at iconic Hollywood landmarks- they want to experience the reality of where dreams come true.
The countries aiming for the Crypto Valley of Asia should have similar ideas; they should entice domestic and international tourists with the hope of a fulfilling future. By doing so, they will expand their reach from a handful of crypto enthusiasts and professionals to anyone with a curious interest in what to expect from the world, which is generally everyone.
Companies Applying Crypto Tourism
Attracting the wider public will correctly depend on the ability to implement cryptocurrency tech across these hubs successfully. Being omnipresent is a necessity. However, thankfully, there are existing popular Asian tech companies whose products can populate a tourist-friendly Crypto Valley.
Initially, the Crypto Valleys can deploy Bitcoin ATM’s via Bitcoin Exchange based out Singapore, along with any other companies that offer to dispense other currencies, very similar to how cities are populated with convenient ATM’s from banks. This would result in a robust ubiquitous feeling- the ability to get cryptocurrency at any time.
There must also be a place to spend one’s crypto. Indonesia’s Pundi X provides an innovative solution in this instance; their Pundi XPOS devices have already been implemented in various parts of the world, and enable the transaction of crypto by anyone using the Pundi XPASS card.
The Future Could Be Even More Impressive
While the companies have deployed their tech at diverse locations, such as the FAMA Group in Hong Kong and Ultra Taiwan 2018, the most impactful deployment would be at Crypto Valley. The ability to walk into any street vendors or small business and having the capability to pay using crypto via Pundi XPOS or any other instrument, the thought is intoxicating. The juxtaposition between bleeding-edge technology and universal adoption within the area is itself a tourist attraction – you’re jumping straight into the future.
The idea of a tourist-friendly Crypto Valley should be seen as a challenge to important and influential leaders responsible for the building of such hubs across Asia. Convincing major crypto companies to locate their offices to these nations is a tremendous achievement, but a lot more can be achieved. They can be used a literal and purest example of the potential that cryptocurrency has in shaping the world. This idea is one that I’m sure people from communities all around the world will flock to see.