By the end of my Unchained interview with Dovey Wan and Eric Meltzer of Primitive Ventures, I had run out of time to ask them a few questions. Dovey graciously agreed to answer them by email, and I’ve published them here, lightly edited.
Korea was one of the highest-volume trading regions in 2017. How has that changed in this crypto winter?
Dovey: The kimchee premium is due to no local supply (from miners) but lots of demand at the very beginning. That eventually balanced out thanks to the positive economics of arbitraging. The trading volume of Korean exchanges is said to be very inflated so I’m not sure what the real volume is currently. This is a commonly known thing when exchanges engage in wash trading a lot to get a higher rank. On Coinmarketcap, the biggest Korean exchange Bithumb is among the top two by reported volume but 200+ by adjusted volume. That says something.
Korea is a small country of 50 million, and Seoul itself makes up 25% of that (10 million). Their megacities are very dense which, in 2017, helped for information propagation. Koreans would simply go to offline meetups to learn about crypto or get investment advice from their neighbor. On the flip side, the penetration in a small pool is also faster, so we have seen major fatigue in the Korean market starting the first half of 2018.
Simon (founder of Hashed, the absolute leader in crypto investment of local Korea) drew this when I was in Korea last time and shared some insights. The Korea regulatory body has been fuzzy about crypto and has no guidelines, leaving much in a gray area there.
Japan was the first country to make Bitcoin a legal currency. What is the scene like there nowadays?
Dovey: Japan is very bitcoin maximalist IMO and VERY rigid when it comes to the regulatory practice of crypto (so maybe not as friendly as people thought). So far we haven’t seen any Japanese local independent protocol devs other than Bitcoin and Ethereum dev support (or mining), and there are very few Japan-based crypto funds. Miss Bitcoin Mai is a good friend and THE biggest influencer of crypto in Japan and she’s my go-to person in Japan who is close to the on-the-ground activities there.
A lot of people are saying that gaming is an industry ripe for crypto to take off in, and Asia in particular has a huge gaming scene. Are there any projects to combine crypto and gaming in Asia that you are keeping an eye on?
Dovey: We are keeping eye on Cocos2d (it’s the second-largest gaming engine after Unity) in-house blockchain project, and applications of Esports + streaming. A project which I invested and used to on the board of, Theta Network, recently formed a partnership with one of Tencent’s games. Tencent won’t be able to develop their own cryptocurrency as far as we know, though there are a few use cases of blockchain without a token already.
The gaming giant Netease secretly launched its blockchain game but shut down right after (most likely due to regulatory concern).
So far we haven’t seen any native crypto games. Most are transactions like Cryptokitties or non-fungible tokens that are not based on a well-designed game. I wrote a thread on this. Creativity — what makes a game awesome — is essentially centralized. What is decentralized is going to regress to the mean — mediocrity. Traditional competitive games, from Go, chess and modern online games are all centralized on rules and gameplay. There must be a native form of crypto game outside trading, collecting all these mental models from old paradigms. If a game requires collective trust, distributed creativity, massive collaboration (maybe a hybrid of Ingress and Minecraft?) that seems to be native to crypto.
Which crypto projects or startups in Asia do you feel like people in the West should know more about?
Dovey: 51signing, a Beijing startup offering full suite solutions in notarization and digital signature based on blockchain products. They’ve served over a million companies and over 100 million signers in China already.
MicroBT is the maker of What’s Miner, which is considered as the biggest competitor to Bitmain’s miner. They are relatively well-known in the mining community ever since the founder Dr. Zuoxing Yang quit Bitmain in 2017.