Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.
Thailand’s crypto UBI
Thailand has a national airdrop in the works under which every citizen 16 years and older receives 10,000 baht ($285).
According to local news reports on Aug. 30, Thailand’s ruling Pheu Thai party will consult the Bank of Thailand in developing a “utility type 1” token necessary for the airdrop. The solution will be a Know Your Customer blockchain-based infrastructure that sources say will take at least six months to roll out. A 100 baht fee will also be charged per user for the KYC process. In addition, the solution will require the approval of the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission.
Real estate developer and crypto investor Srettha Thavisin was elected as Thailand’s prime minister on Aug. 22. During campaigning, Thavisin promised to give each person 10,000 baht in basic income stimulus via “digital currency” if elected into power. In 2021, Thavisin’s firm, Sansiri, purchased a 15% stake in Thai asset tokenization provider X Spring for 1.6 billion baht ($45.7 million).
The Thailand Development and Research Institute said funding for the Thavisin Airdrop will come from tax collection in the 2024 fiscal year. The total budget estimate for the project is 560 billion baht ($16 billion).
The airdrop will not be equivalent to fiat baht funds, however. Users reportedly can only spend the digitized tokens within four kilometers of their residence. The tokens will only be valid for a period of six months and cannot be converted into cash or used to settle debts. Thavisin’s government is expected to assume office by the end of September.
Delio users’ assets slashed in half
More bad news is coming for users of troubled South Korean Bitcoin lender Delio.
According to local news reports on Aug. 30, the South Korean crypto lending giant, which holds over $1.2 billion in Bitcoin and Ether, is expecting a recovery rate of just 50% to 70% on its assets. On June 14, Delio suspended deposits and withdrawals after disclosing significant counterparty exposure to fellow South Korean Bitcoin lender Haru Invest.
On June 13, Haru Invest also suspended deposits and withdrawals after allegations of fraudulent activities arose surrounding its operator, B&S Holdings. Haru Invest is currently in bankruptcy proceedings. Likewise, Delio is currently under investigation by the country’s regulatory authorities for allegations of fraud, embezzlement and breach of trust. The platform previously announced that it would resume withdrawals, although no updates on such a timeline have since been given.
Vietnam’s booming crypto market
Vietnam is currently ranked first in the world in crypto adoption, with up to 19% of its population between the ages of 18 and 64 using digital assets.
That’s according to an Aug. 30 report authored by Vietnamese venture capital firms Kyros Ventures and Coin 68, together with Animoca Brands. Currently, the Southeast Asian country is the home to around 200 blockchain projects and is expected to generate $109.4 million in revenue from crypto exchanges this year. The country’s crypto users are forecast to grow to 12.37 million by 2027.
Among the highlights, 76% of Vietnamese crypto users say that they invest in digital assets based on advice from friends, a number 2.5 times higher than individuals surveyed in the U.S. Nearly 70% of respondents said the crypto bear market would last less than one year or has already ended. Almost half of respondents say that centralized exchanges offer just as much utility as decentralized ones, but 90% of crypto owners use decentralized exchanges.
Binance Japan to list 100 coins
On Aug. 30, Tsuyoshi Chino, CEO of Binance Japan, held an online business briefing discussing the exchange’s domestic expansion strategy. During the session, Chino said that Binance Japan would seek to list 100 coins and tokens “as soon as possible.”
Local news reports note that Binance Japan currently provides spot trading of cryptocurrencies alongside staking “Simple Earn” programs. The use of margin trading is currently not available unless the exchange obtains a regulatory license. The presentation also revealed that its parent exchange, Binance, has surpassed 150 million in user count, with an average daily trading volume of $65 billion. Earlier this year, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase ceased operations in Japan, citing difficult market conditions.
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Shenzhen’s 15 million yuan for airdrops
In a government-sponsored conference promoting the digital Chinese yuan central bank digital currency, officials from the City of Shenzhen pledged 15 million digital yuan ($2.1 million) for municipal airdrops over the next three years. Binqquan Wei, vice governor of Agricultural Bank of China Shenzhen, said that the digital yuan has proven during trials to be a highly efficient method for consumer transaction receipts via its immutable distributed ledger technology:
“The platform currently has more than 200 merchants, involving 11 key industries such as education and training, catering, pet services, elderly care and sports.”
China’s central government has been heavily promoting the digital yuan CBDC as a means of stimulating the country’s ailing economy amid a looming recession. In its latest figures, the CBDC has surpassed $123 billion in cumulative transactions since 2021, with test sites running in 17 provinces and 26 districts.
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