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Digital millionaires: A look at the rise of crypto influencers in S’pore

In the past, we’ve all come across overly enthusiastic YouTube advertisements from self-proclaimed finance gurus. They usually start by saying, “Do you want to get high interest on your cash savings? I made $10,000 last month with this one simple trick”.

Fast forward to present day, these individuals have expanded their horizons to the decentralised world too. Their new sales pitch goes along the lines of finding the next big NFT project with ’10x potential’ or discovering a secret meme coin that’s going to the moon.

That’s just one kind of crypto influencer though — the kind which gives the rest of them a bad reputation.

As you head towards the brighter end of the spectrum, you find everyday enthusiasts who are fond of sharing research, and developers who are working on their own projects.

Who are Singapore’s most notable crypto influencers?

The majority of Singapore’s crypto influencers earned this title through their contributions to blockchain technology.

Many of the leading projects in this space were founded in Singapore, and their creators have since amassed large followings on social media. Here are the ones you should know of, and some of their valuable insights.

1. Zhu Su

Zhu Su is the co-founder of Singapore-based hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3ac). He started the venture in 2012 along with Kyle Davies, and has since amassed a crypto portfolio worth billions.

3ac has a vested interest in a variety of blockchain companies and applications. Some of the notable investments in its portfolio include AAVE, a decentralised liquidity protocol; AXIE Infinity, the most highly valued NFT game; and crypto-asset fund DeFiance Capital.

Zhu has accumulated almost half-a-million followers on his Twitter account. He often uses the platform to share his thoughts on crypto trends and developments.

In light of the recent market crash, Zhu responded to CNBC hosts Jim Cramer’s speculations that a wave of money would be moving from crypto into the stock market. Zhu believes that crypto yields will continue to be far more appealing to millennials than utility stocks.

2. Irene Zhao

After gaining a following of over 300,000 as a traditional Instagram influencer, Irene Zhao made the leap into crypto this January. Zhao released a collection titled IreneDAO, which featured NFT photos of herself.

irenedao irene zhao nft
The floor price of the IreneDAO NFT is ~US$2,400 at the time of writing this / Screenshot of OpenSea

The owners of Zhao’s NFTs get to be a part of a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), which was created to disrupt the creator economy.

Zhao believes that decentralisation is the key to helping creators like herself get compensated fairly for their work.

Click on the thread to read the full explanation.

On platforms like Instagram, influencers get paid for their reach and engagement, not the actual content which they produce. Through NFTs, Zhao is able to directly monetise her work. She doesn’t have to rely on advertisers and sponsorships to get paid.

3. Bobby Ong

In 2014, Bobby Ong co-founded Singapore-based startup CoinGecko. Today, the company is one of the leading crypto data trackers in the world. It provides free access to market data of over 7,000 different crypto-assets.

Ong has over 30,000 followers on Twitter. He also hosts monthly panel discussions on CoinGecko, where leading personalities from the field are invited to share their thoughts on crypto happenings.

With the meteoric rise of NFTs over the past two years, sceptics have been quick to write them off as a market bubble. Ong, on the other hand, believes that their growth is just getting started.

He tackles the claim that NFTs have no inherent value by saying that the same applies to an assortment of physical possessions which people seem to collect.

4. Arthur Cheong

An investor since he was 19, Arthur Cheong switched over from oil and gas trading to cryptocurrency around five years ago.

Since then he has served as Vice President of Singapore-based blockchain company Zilliqa and started up his own investment fund, DeFiance Capital.

The fund operates on the belief that decentralised finance (DeFi) will overtake traditional finance in the next decade.

Following the market crash, Cheong invited speculation on how NFTs seemingly remained unaffected.

The floor price of blue-chip collections hasn’t seen significant change over the past month — when measured in ETH, that is. Their value in fiat money has dropped proportionally, since ETH is down by about 40 percent.

This might signify that collectors aren’t pricing their NFTs based on their value in fiat. Instead, the underlying cryptocurrencies are being used as anchor points.

5. Justin Sun

Grenadian tech billionaireJustin Sun chose Singapore as the base to start up his own blockchain, TRON, in 2017. Sun’s known to have an NFT collection worth over a hundred million dollars. He’s also an avid collector of traditional art and owns paintings by Picasso and Giacometti.

justin sun meets warren buffett bitcoin
Justin Sun’s meeting with Warren Buffett / Image Credits: Coin Gecko

In 2019, he spent US$4.6 million at a charity auction to win a dinner with Warren Buffett. He gifted Buffett his first Bitcoin in an attempt to convert the renowned stock investor into a crypto believer.

Speculating on the future of cryptocurrency, Sun hopes that multiple blockchains will coexist and be connected. Sun acquired BitTorrent in 2020 and has built the platform into a chain which could facilitate such interoperability.


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Featured Image Credit: Irene Zhao / CNBC / LetKnow News

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