Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Sha'ban 28, 1444 H
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Token 2049 brings back crypto excitement to Singapore

Token 2049, the world’s premier crypto event was back to Singapore last week, and I attended the main conference on September 28 and 29, 2022. The conference was hosted in Marina Bay Sands Convention Center and accommodated more than 7000 attendees. It has been an amazing networking opportunity. For someone as curious as me, while walking from a booth to next one, it was quite easy to put together 100 connections for each of the two days. Founders, Venture Capitals, and crypto enthusiasts from all over the world attended the event to make sure that they did not miss any actions in the industry. On top of the main event, and as part of the Asia Crypto week, over 150 side events and after parties, ushered the comeback of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, a refreshing display of Singapore's return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

During the conference I had the opportunity to observe the most interesting trends in the industry and I would like to summarise a few ideas in this column.

First of all, I found particularly interesting to observe that despite the cryptocurrency market being in the winter season (or bear market), there are a number of exciting new projects venturing the crypto space. An indication that technology and finance are not necessarily moving at the same speed or in the same direction. I do not remember a single conversation around the price of Ethereum or Bitcoin throughout the two days. Meaning that the community as a whole is more interested in innovation and new opportunities, that the mere status of the already volatile crypto market.

Secondly, although crypto trends like DeFi and NFT experienced an incredible growth in 2021, followed by a shocking collapse in early - mid 2022, the segments are far from dead. Most of the players are still very much excited about what can be done, more than what has already happened. It is also clear though, that the industry has learned what works and what does not. And as a consequence, new iterations of innovation are built on the foundation of failure. For example, while earning 20% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) was consider basic or average in 2021, now it is considered close to impossible. I overheard a conversation in the elevator between someone claiming that their Decentralised Finance (DeFi) protocol granting 10% APY, and the other person in the lift saying that it was simply not possible. That is a sharp shift in the public expectation. I cannot prove that, of course, but I am quite confident that the same person that doubted the performance, might have been “bullish” on a 20% APY less than 6 months ago. But the Terra / Luna crash taught a lesson that cannot be forgotten in the community.

Lastly, despite the NFT market being significantly reduced overall - with some verticals down 95% from a year ago - the space is still quite active, with plenty of new projects and new thought experiments being launched on a regular basis. The Non-Fungible Token (NFT) concept can be applied to so many use cases, that some people might find surprising if they were to just disappear. On the contrary, the whole digitalisation of assets seems to be transiting through NFT as a necessary step towards new possibilities.

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