Token 2049 in Hong Kong, a massive blockchain conference that ended last week, covered many key topics, from the increasing institutionalisation of crypto assets to the emerging trend of decentralised exchanges. From how China’s ban on ICOs has had the adverse effect of growing the nation’s acceptance of cryptocurrencies, to an insight into the operations of crypto hedge funds around the globe. Not to be missed was an entertaining talk on “the antifragility of bitcoin” and an insight into Japan’s leading position in the crypto world. Then there were the sideline parties, one of which launched our very own cryptonewsasia.io, which saw a massively doubling of expected guests — which incidentally bumped up our party cost — and another party in which a project owner undertook a gimmicky air drop of free tokens from bursting balloons.
All the hoopla aside, Token 2049 illustrated one key takeaway: Asia’s place in the blockchain world is rapidly rising. China maybe the epicentre of the crypto world, following its position as the world’s blockchain mining hub. But has stiff regulation stifled its progress? According to Jack Lu, a seasoned technology entrepreneur who has straddled both the US and China markets, the contrary is true: China’s government policies are conducive to creating a token economy.
“Following the September 4, 2017 ban on ICOs in China, the market there has actually grown 10 fold,” he said in his talk entitled “The Sleeping Dragon: China and its place in the token economy.”
Here is why. For starters, the blockchain is crucial to China, a market that has long suffered from a credibility crisis, in which individuals as well as corporations have always had trust issues among each other. Lu is founder and CEO of Wanchain, which seeks to link different blockchains together.
Lu also pointed out that China has always been a “regulation heavy” market. In fact, the bank on ICOs is understandable. Lu says the government’s two key concerns are money laundering through ICOs and the investment exposure of the mom and pop investors to the highly risky asset class.
“They (the Chinese government) don’t want to stifle innovation and at the same time they want social stability.”
Lu also pointed out these facts: in early 2017, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) founded the the Digital Currency Research Institute; PBoC’s newly appointed governor Yi Gang has said that going forward, regulation will be dynamic; and China’s Internet giants the BAT group made up of Baidu, Alibaba Group and Tencent have poured in lots of resources into blockchain technology. “All of this tells you that blockchain very welcome in China,” quipped Lu.
Lu says two tracks of blockchain in China are the pure start-ups building their own blockchain and token economy and the traditional financial institutions working on blockchain solutions. “Wanchain has the solution to bring these public and private chains together,” he said.