While many marketers and institutions are turning away from using words like “NFTs,” “crypto” or even “Web3,” opting instead for “digital collectibles” and “decentralized systems,” two recent news items indicate that the field is as active as ever. Last week, Hong Kong announced new crypto regulations allowing retail investors to trade “large-cap tokens” and Paris’ Centre Pompidou made a high-profile acquisition of 18 NFTs, including a CryptoPunk.
Both Hong Kong and Paris have become increasingly aggressive players in the crypto and Web3 space. From investments in projects to welcoming a swelling number of start-ups, both cities have ramped up their resources over the past year.
New regulations in Hong Kong outline that all virtual currency exchanges in Hong Kong must obtain a license and relevant permit to operate. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has also announced an opportunity for the public to give feedback on the digital currency listing.
The SFC is seeking views on whether to allow licensed platform operators to serve retail investors and which protective measures should be implemented if so, to ensure suitability in onboarding clients and token admission.
The new licensing regime is expected to go live on June 1, with a 12-month transition period for existing crypto exchanges.
Hong Kong’s new regulations indicate a more relaxed regulatory environment that could attract Chinese-founded Web3 companies who, following Beijing’s strict crackdown on crypto in 2021, had often relocated to places like Singapore or Dubai.
The Hong Kong government has already allocated $6.4 million (HK$50 million) this year to boost the development of Web3, mostly towards activities that will include organizing major international seminars and workshops for younger people to develop the Web3 ecosystem, according to Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po’s 2023-24 budget speech.
This funding will be dispensed through the government-run business Cyberport, which ran the Web3Hub@Cyberport accelerator. The accelerator intends to attract 1,000 Web3 start-ups to set up shop in Hong Kong over the next three years. And, according to Daniel Cham, general manager for Workday Greater China, the government will also set aside HK$500 million for Cyberport to subsidize the digital transformation of start-ups.
Paris’ NFT art scene is steadily developing. In October of last year, NFT Factory, (the “Soho House for Web3”) opened its doors just across from the Pompidou. Between Paris sheltering others from the crypto winter, crypto.com choosing Paris as its regional hub, Paris Blockchain Week, and now the Centre Pompidou acquiring NFT works, it’s clear that Paris is doubling down on crypto culture.
Earlier this month, the Centre Pompidou acquired 18 NFTs from 13 prominent French and international artists, which are set to join France’s national collection of modern and contemporary art. The NFT artists selected include Aaajiao, Emilie Brout and Maxime Marion, Claude Closky, Fred Forest, John Gerrard, Agnieszka Kurant, Jonas Lund, Larva Labs, Jill Magid, Sarah Meyohas, Robness, Rafael Rozendaal, and John F. Simon Jr.
The Pompidou plans to release an acquisition budget and other details in April 2023; on-chain data shows that, so far CryptoPunk #110 have so far not been transferred to any new wallets.
Other news from Paris includes NFT Paris, Europe’s largest NFT event, returning to the Grand Palais in Paris on February 24 and 25. Providing a meeting place for the global NFT scene, including both crypto enthusiasts and blue-chip brands and organizations, the NFT Paris event intended — according to official materials — to expand the horizons of Web3 and showcase up-and-coming trends and projects in the NFT space.
The Grand Palais is expected to have hosted more than 8,000 people and offered a cultural bridge for experts to share their knowledge and visions, serving as a central meeting point for both large brands and crypto enthusiasts.
What They Said
“Hong Kong’s extended support for virtual assets since October is further enhanced with the new licensing regime and consultation. This will help more start-up companies and talents establish businesses in Hong Kong, resulting in a more prosperous local virtual asset/Web3 ecosystem. This news has not only caused widespread positive responses in the Asia-Pacific region, but also in the global Web3 community. It can be assumed that the Western market and participants will also pay more attention to the development of the Eastern Web3 market this year.”
— Jupiter Zheng, research director at HashKey Capital
“Web3 is an innovative territory that artists have now seized upon to create original and daring work and this collection reaffirms our support for artists in their conquest of new means of expression, which is the foundation of modern art.”
— French Ministry of Culture and the Pompidou’s director, Xavier Rey