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Eyes on Asia: Why the Next Wave of Crypto Adoption Won’t Come From the US

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In the span of just 15 years, cryptocurrency has evolved from a niche experiment to a global phenomenon, with worldwide adoption recently pushing the market past the $2.5 trillion mark. 

While there is a tendency for commentators and critics to focus on the growth of crypto in the United States – a recent Harris Poll suggests 77% of Americans believe a U.S. presidential candidate should know crypto – much of the momentum is actually coming from other regions. In particular, Asia.

Although it would be an exaggeration to say Asia is poised to eat America’s lunch on the crypto front, there are sure signs that the next major wave of adoption, both retail and institutional, will be largely driven by users in this region.  

Policymakers Prove Asia is Open for Crypto Business

This is not a new trend, of course: crypto adoption in Asia has been on a rise for a number of years, with Hong Kong’s recent listing of a batch of cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs) marking something of a high-water mark. Singapore, meanwhile, has gradually morphed into a major web3 hub, while blockchain gaming companies are sprouting up in developer epicenters across South Korea, Japan and the Philippines.

Such impressive Asian growth is due in part to progressive policies by regulators in countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, all of whom have provided much-needed regulatory clarity around security token offerings (STOs); the sort of clarity that is sadly lacking in the U.S. 

Unsurprisingly, the 2023 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report by Chainalysis ranks Central & Southern Asia and Oceania (CSAO) 3rd by the metric of raw crypto transaction volume, trailing behind only North America and Central, Northern & Western Europe (CNWE).

Asian Crypto Projects Gaining Traction

The number of Asia-based crypto projects finding traction is a lengthy one, with many – including exchanges, VCs, accelerators, and DeFi protocols – shaping up as industry leaders.

In India, which has emerged as the world’s second-largest crypto market in terms of raw transaction volume, one project gaining momentum is Dabba. A DePIN-based internet service provider, it aims to increase connectivity for a vast population that currently lacks internet access. 

With only 30 million of India’s 1.4 billion people having WiFi, and less than half with any internet at all, Dabba leverages Solana’s high-throughput blockchain to deploy DePIN devices as hotspots offering super-fast, cheap internet. Device owners earn Dabba tokens for sharing their data, and the project aims to deploy over 100,000 hotspots by the end of 2024. Dabba is no flash in the pan project, either: its first hotspot, built over Raspberry Pi, launched in a bakery shop in Bangalore in 2016, long before the DePIN craze was a thing.

In Thailand, the EVM-compatible Fuse blockchain ecosystem is making its own strides and doing a terrific job of onboarding businesses and consumers to crypto rails. Notable for features like Account Abstraction (enabling the removal of complex blockchain actions for normies), web3 payment support for everyday transactions, Wallet as a Service, and a mobile stack that allows businesses to spin up their own branded wallets, Fuse works closely with centralized Thai exchange Bitazza. Their goal? To enable South East Asian businesses to launch and manage token communities via the Fuse-powered, loyalty-driven Freedom Wallet. 

Asian builders gonna build, but O.G. blockchain platforms like EOS are also expanding their footprint in the region in a big way. Last year, the network received approval to trade its native currency against the yen on licensed Japanese exchanges. The debut of the EOS token on BitTrade, which is licensed and regulated by the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), was a major milestone for a network that was on life support for a few years before being resurrected by the EOS Network Foundation. 

“While the West continues to antagonize blockchain companies, Asia is welcoming us in with their arms wide open. In Asia, the future is bright for crypto!” ENF Executive Director Yves La Rose tweeted last year.

The Future is Asia

There’s no getting away from it, Asian nations are emerging as central players powering the swelling wave of global crypto adoption, a consequence of their robust regulatory frameworks and talented developer communities.

Reinforcing this view, Yat Siu, Cofounder of Hong Kong-based gaming titan Animoca Brands, stated on a recent podcast that “The leading force in Web3 is clearly Asia.” Siu also believes the overall crypto market could expand up to 200x over the next decade, thanks in part to growth in the region.

Whether that prediction proves fanciful or not, expect Asia to continue to have a major say in the industry’s evolution.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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