Over the past few years, Singapore has emerged as an attractive hub for blockchain startups. In light of the country’s progressive regulations, companies have been able to freely explore the utilities of the crypto space. The success of platforms such as Coinhako and Ziliqa has been instrumental in this development.
Even as new laws are put into place, local blockchain companies don’t face the risk of being blindsided. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recognises the potential benefits of blockchain technology and has taken measures to protect the interests of both startups and retail consumers.
As a result, we get to have front-row seats to new innovations in this space. From gaming to social media, the benefits of blockchain technology are being explored across a variety of industries.
Despite the flourishing startup scene, the crypto adoption in Singapore is still relatively low. A study conducted by Triple A in 2021 estimated that only 9.4 per cent of Singaporeans owned cryptocurrency.
There could be a number of reasons behind this. For starters, there is a great deal of scepticism around using crypto as an investment asset. MAS discourages retail consumers from investing in crypto due to price volatility and the risk of significant losses.
The crypto space is also notorious for scams. In most cases, lost funds can’t be recovered and there’s little which can be done by way of legal recourse.
Up till now, the utility for crypto — besides a speculative investment — hasn’t been readily apparent either. Even with the emergence of NFTs, it’d seem that a vast majority of people were only buying in with hopes of turning a profit.
That seems to be changing as we’re introduced to concepts like GameFi and SocialFi. These streams aim to revamp the way in which revenue is used and distributed by a company.
Crypto tokens are being used to provide users access to gaming platforms. They also give holders the right to participate in governance and vote on the next steps for the respective projects. While these tokens may fluctuate in value and users could treat them as a speculative investment, that’s not their primary purpose.
Here’s a look at the Singaporean startups which are making use of such crypto-based utilities:
Play-to-earn gaming is one of the biggest crypto trends at the moment. It has been especially popular in Southeast Asia, where some users have been able to earn a living wage through games such as Axie Infinity and DeFi Kingdoms.
In Singapore, companies such as Enjin, Ethlas, and G-Link have been pushing the boundaries of GameFi.
Enjin is building up a blockchain gaming ecosystem through its dedicated launchpad, Enjinstarter. Users are able to participate in initial decentralised exchange offerings (IDOs) and raise funds for upcoming blockchain games.
For example, BattleVerse is a play-to-earn metaverse which raised US$200,000 worth of funds through Enjinstarter. Those who participated in the IDO received BattleVerse’s native crypto token, $BVC. This will be used for the purchase of in-game objects and grants holders access to a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), which manages the metaverse.
$BVC can also be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies, and converted back to fiat money.
With traditional games, the creators receive all the revenue from the sale of in-game items. GameFi switches this model around and offers value to all those who hold the in-game currency. In addition, gamers get to be a part of the decision-making process and vote on future developments.
Ethlas and G-Link are both working on their own blockchain gaming ecosystems as well, focusing on casual games which appeal to a mass market audience.
One of the primary ideas driving these platforms is to fairly reward gamers for their time and effort. Currently, users are bombarded by advertisements on mobile games without receiving anything in return. This is one of the potential revenue streams which GameFi could help redistribute.
Throughout the 2010s, we saw the rise of social media influencers. It became possible to earn a living through content creation on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram.
That being said, revenue distribution on these platforms has often been unfavourable to creators. A vast majority of profits are retained by the social media platforms, and influencers can only share in earnings once they’ve amassed a significant following.
Singapore-based startups such as Kala Network and Bizverse World are exploring SocialFi platforms, which readily reward users for creating content.
Scheduled to launch in the second quarter of this year, Kala Network’s social media platform will be centred around investment and project research. Users will be able to engage in the platform’s create-to-earn economy through a variety of actions including creating, commenting, or otherwise engaging with posts.
Influencers who build up a following on the platform will receive further dividends for their curated content.
Bizverse World is leveraging on the move towards online working which we’ve seen during the pandemic. The platform is building a metaverse for business activities where people can own virtual assets such as shopping malls and exhibition spaces.
Within these environments, users will be able to host their own services such as video games and e-commerce stores. The concept revolves around the creation of a digital society which mirrors the physical world.
Coined by Singaporean influencer Irene Zhao when she released her IreneDAO NFT collection, SimpFi has emerged as an extension of SocialFi.
The idea hopes to improve the dynamics between influencers and their fans. Zhao believes that NFTs can help instil a sense of community which is lacking on platforms such as Instagram. Holders are able to interact with each other in a Discord group and be part of a governance process, which decides how to use the revenue generated by the NFTs.
For other content creators following this model, SimpFi could help bring in a direct source of income. They would no longer need to rely on sponsorships and ads. Instead, they would directly benefit from the sale of their NFTs.
Fans would also have the assurance that their support is directly benefiting their favourite creators rather than a third-party platform.
Tammy Tay is another Singaporean influencer who is exploring this model and working on the launch of her own NFT collection. Since September 2021, Tay has been developing NFTs which will serve as exclusive passes to both Web3 and real-world events.
The next wave of crypto adoption
It’d seem that all these innovations are working in conjunction to onboard more people into the crypto space.
In fact, it’s becoming apparent that crypto has utilities across different industries, and there are a variety of reasons why someone would want to buy in.
It isn’t likely that any one project will onboard the next billion people onto the blockchain. Instead, users will be drawn to the space when they find a utility which speaks to them.
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Featured Image Credit: Axie Infinity / Finextra Research / Irene Zhao