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Six key takeaways about crypto and Web3 from TOKEN2049 Singapore

Written by Gideon Ng Published on   6 mins read

Onboarding new users to Web3 still requires work, encompassing initiatives like social recovery, user-friendly wallets, and greater regulatory clarity.

TOKEN2049, one of Asia’s marquee crypto and Web3 events, welcomed over 10,000 attendees from 3,500 companies for its recently concluded Singapore edition. Hailing from over 120 countries, these attendees converged at the exhibition space of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands to discuss both sectoral and cross-sectoral topics, including regulatory changes and innovation in the crypto industry, the impact of artificial intelligence on Web3 developments, and more.

While in Singapore, TOKEN2049 attendees also had the opportunity to take part in over 450 side events, workshops, and networking opportunities hosted islandwide, including Web3 Gaming Summit 2023, DeSoc Unleashed x Web3 Social House, and SG Builders @ Blockhouse, among others.

Here are the key highlights from this year’s TOKEN2049 event:

Telegram partners with TON Foundation for Web3 wallet

The Open Network (TON) Foundation announced during TOKEN2049 that it has integrated a self-custodial crypto wallet into Telegram’s messaging app, enabling over 800 million users to store, send, and trade cryptocurrencies directly within the application.

Originally, Telegram had launched its own blockchain project named Telegram Open Network (TON), but it encountered regulatory hurdles, resulting in its abandonment following legal action by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

However, some open-source developers unaffiliated with Telegram continued the blockchain’s development, leading to the birth of The Open Network (TON) Foundation. Although it may not enjoy the same level of popularity as Ethereum and its Layer-2 networks, at least 551 applications have emerged within the TON ecosystem since its establishment.

The introduction of the self-custodial wallet, called TON Space, is expected to further enhance the user experience by enabling direct access to the TON blockchain on the Telegram platform, providing greater visibility for the blockchain.

Users will be able to send and receive TON tokens, bitcoins, and USDT on the Tron blockchain using the wallet, which could facilitate the entry of mainstream users into the crypto world. Telegram’s sleek design could also give it a competitive edge over other Web3 wallets with cumbersome user interfaces.

Zilliqa’s partnership with Google Cloud

The Layer-1 blockchain unveiled its collaboration with Google Cloud at the TOKEN2049 event, appointing the cloud service provider as a staked seed node (SSN) operator on the network.

As an SSN operator, Google Cloud will provide infrastructure hosting services for nodes, facilitating the validation of transactions across the network. This move will promote increased decentralization and enhance the blockchain’s security and governance aspects, thereby encouraging user participation.

Decentralization was also a topic that James Tromans, managing director of Web3 at Google Cloud, touched upon during a panel session about building Web3 infrastructure for mass adoption. Tromans envisioned a future where users could run their own nodes on their mobile devices, ultimately contributing to further decentralization of the blockchain.

In addition to Zilliqa, Google Cloud has also partnered with other blockchains like Ethereum, Solana, Aptos, and Polygon, demonstrating its intention to become a key infrastructure player in the blockchain industry.

Franklin Templeton shares roadmap for crypto products

The asset management company recently submitted an application to the US SEC seeking approval for a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).

During a panel discussion titled “The Future of Cryptocurrency as an Asset Class,” Jenny Johnson, president and CEO of Franklin Templeton, shared her conviction in Bitcoin. She highlighted the cryptocurrency’s potential to revolutionize traditional financial services.

Additionally, Johnson discussed the limitations of traditional ETFs, as the prices are determined and updated only twice during the trading day. Franklin Templeton is exploring the possibility of introducing mutual funds that operate on blockchain technology. This move is driven by the belief that utilizing on-chain data can create fresh investment opportunities and reduce operational costs.

Franklin Templeton has already obtained approval from the SEC for the Franklin US Government Money Fund, an on-chain fund which will use the Stellar and Polygon blockchains to process transactions and record share ownership.

An incredible rug pull during the event

JPEX, a Hong Kong-based crypto exchange, had a booth at TOKEN2049 that it abandoned on the second day, after being issued a warning by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC).

Subsequently, JPEX’s withdrawal fees were raised to 980 USDT as users scrambled to withdraw their funds from the platform. The police revealed at least 83 complaints related to the platform had been received, involving virtual assets worth about HKD 34 million (USD 4.3 million).

In Hong Kong, crypto exchange licenses have been granted only to HashKey Group and OSL for retail investors. Unlicensed exchanges like JPEX are prohibited from soliciting customers in Hong Kong.

JPEX was offering high annual percentage yields with its JPEX Earn products for Ethereum (21%), Bitcoin (20%), and Tether (19%). These high returns, while attractive, could be unsustainable and may have been inflated to entice users to deposit their assets on the platform.

This incident underscores the importance of regulatory compliance in the crypto space. Hong Kong is aiming to establish itself as a dominant player in the Web3 industry and recently extended an invitation to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, following concerns he had raised about the stability of the city’s crypto climate.

Binance CEO shares views on on-chain social media platforms and crypto mass adoption

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, spoke virtually during a fireside chat with Balaji Srinivasan, founder of The Network State, during which he expressed his aspirations for the development of an on-chain social media platform.

While transaction fees on the Ethereum network can be costly, the emergence of Layer-2 scaling solutions built atop Ethereum has been instrumental in alleviating network congestion and reducing user fees.

A decentralized social network currently making waves is Friend.tech, which leverages Base, a Layer-2 network built by Coinbase. Users on the platform can purchase “keys” of any X (formerly known as Twitter) account, which may grant them benefits such as access to private chats with account holders.

A fee is charged whenever a user trades a “key” of any creator, splitting it equally between the platform and creator. The platform generated the second-highest fee earnings among decentralized platforms in the past 24 hours (on September 25, 2023), amounting to approximately USD 770,000.

Zhao also shared his insights regarding the barriers to onboarding the next billion individuals into crypto.

He believes that streamlining fiat on-ramp procedures, which entail converting traditional fiat currencies into cryptocurrencies, is pivotal to facilitating this integration.

Previously, traditional financial institutions faced challenges with providing on-ramp services, especially following the closure of the crypto-friendly Silvergate Bank. Alternative methods include purchasing cryptocurrencies via credit cards, which often involve higher fees, or utilizing peer-to-peer exchanges, which carry inherent risks like potential scams, making them less secure options for users.

Circle provides insight into the future of stablecoins

During a fireside chat featuring Jeremy Allaire, co-founder and CEO of Circle, and Haslinda Amin, anchor and chief international correspondent at Bloomberg, Allaire discussed some of the challenges associated with stablecoin adoption. He emphasized the importance of legal certainty to encourage wider acceptance and the need to address technological hurdles, simplifying cryptocurrency into an experience that does not intimidate the average person.

To illustrate this, Allaire provided an example where the implementation of social onboarding and social recovery mechanisms can simplify user engagement, mitigating concerns about the potential loss of assets or devices. At present, users face the risk of losing the assets held in their non-custodial wallets if their seed phrase—a twelve-word passphrase serving as the wallet’s master password—is compromised.

Circle also announced its partnership with Grab, facilitating the introduction of an integrated Web3 wallet within Grab’s superapp. This enables users to use vouchers and NFTs to earn rewards. With a user base of 180 million, this partnership holds significant potential to facilitate the onboarding of Southeast Asian users into the world of Web3.


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