Southeast Asia leads other regions in non-fungible token (NFT) adoption, with the top three countries in Statista’s research being the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia. NFTs are online certificates of digitally-created intellectual property. The NFT trends in the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) show that the region currently has a strong appetite for this technology, and new startups are emerging to innovate in that sector.
NFTs have created novel opportunities for investment, copyright protection, revenue earning, online trading, gaming, community engagement, and other benefits. Gaming companies, such as Vietnam’s Sky Mavis, have developed games that use NFTs, tokens, and crypto to enable users to trade digital game assets and make money.
The Tech Collective team explores the dark side of NFTs in Asia and beyond
Here are a few other NFT startups in Southeast Asia that are standing out:
Blockchain-based virtual reality (VR) game Metastrike is a role-playing game (RPG) in the metaverse. It’s a first-person shooter project enabling gamers to collect weapons, build maps, and steal NFTs from other players. Gamers can visit Metastrike’s NFT marketplace to buy or sell items for money. The game’s play-to-earn model uses tokens known as MTT.
Metastrike has thus far raised USD 3.8 million from Good Games Guild, Master Ventures, and Exnetwork Capital, amongst others. The company will use the money to boost its platform and game development.
Web3-based game platform ARCADE2BIT is a Singaporean company whose founders seek to bring equality to the gaming industry in Southeast Asia. They want to enable gamers to be consumers and equal stakeholders in the gaming ecosystem alongside game developers and publishers.
The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Indonesia’s game NFT marketplace, Kaching. Kaching VP of Blockchain Business, Dody Kuniardi, said he was impressed with ARCADE2BIT’s ability to source Web2 games from Korea and combine that with the idea of NFTs to generate in-game profits. ARCADE2BIT aims to solve the problem for Korean companies looking to break into the Southeast Asian market.
Augmented reality (AR) firm BuzzAR is a Singaporean company providing AR solutions to commerce and retail businesses. It has developed the HappyToon App that enables mobile users to convert photos into animated pictures and videos. The company is counting on Web3 to roll out CryptoToon, whereby users can create and trade content.
Thus far, BuzzAR has raised USD 4.8 million over eight funding rounds, with its most recent financing coming in February 2022 in the sum of USD 3.8 million. Investors include F50 Elevate, Peter Hlavnick, Enterprise Singapore, and Singapore Tourism. In July 2022, BuzzAR launched its “Pop-Up Metaverse”, where people can convert their faces into avatars in real time. The firm plans to launch a mobile app enabling users to customise their avatars.
Indonesian platform SerMorpheus helps businesses create NFTs, enabling people to trade digital assets using the local currency, Rupiah. It takes about a 5% cut for every NFT minted on its platform. The company has a lot of potential because there are copious amounts of intellectual property created on social media ripe for leverage using Web3 technology.
SerMorpheus raised USD 2.5 million in September from AlphaClub Capital and Intudo Ventures. Other investors include 500 Global, BRI Ventures, FEBE Ventures, and Caballeros Capital. It will use the money for staff recruitment and upgrading its infrastructure.
Web3 discovery platform Playground is a gaming, information, and NFT discovery site that helps users connect, build, learn, and be part of a community. With insufficient information online regarding Web3, Playground seeks to bridge that knowledge gap with its team’s understanding and experience of the subject. Users will be kept up-to-date with new information, updates, milestones, and debates within the community in a neutral manner to enhance learning.
Playground completed a pre-seed funding round of an undisclosed amount, co-led by East Ventures and Mirana Ventures. Other investors include Arc Capital, Jambo founder James Z and Benjamin Zhu. The capital raised will be used in line with its mission to provide information on the Web3 ecosystem.
As these NFT startups in Southeast Asia show, the demand for blockchain, crypto, and NFTs is robust. As technology evolves, there are increasing opportunities to address societal challenges by using NFT certificates as verifiable proof of owning specific property, either physical or intellectual. Blockchain technology is also revolutionising cryptocurrency use as an alternative to traditional money and is replacing regular contracts with smart digital contracts.
The positive-heading NFT trends in ASEAN point to a region keen on adopting non-fungible tokens and decentralised blockchain solutions while finding a way to educate and encourage the public to use the new technology. There is still a lot for the government and other stakeholders to learn about NFTs and their value so that everyone can be on the same page and work to change current prohibitive regulations.