Digestible news on the latest developments across the fields of Web3, NFTs, blockchain, and metaverse in China and beyond, compiled for you every week by Pandaily.
This week: Animoca Brands acquires educational startup TinyTap, NFT platforms in China grow 5x in four months despite regulatory scrutiny, Yahoo to launch metaverse events for Hong Kong residents restricted by COVID measures, and more.
Animoca Brands Acquires Educational Startup TinyTap
Hong Kong-based blockchain gaming software and venture capital firm Animoca Brands announced this week its acquisition of TinyTap, a platform for educational games, in a bid to build a tokenized learning platform. SCMP first reported this story.
- The deal is worth $38.9 million, and Animoca Brands is taking an 84.13% stake in TinyTap, a platform that allows users to create their own video games without any coding experience.
- With the acquisition, Animoca Brands will build a blockchain-based ecosystem of user-generated educational content.
- “We empower educators to create engaging learning activities that can reach millions of children directly and that enable them to earn based on the success of their creations,” said TinyTap CEO Yogev Shelly. “By becoming a part of Animoca Brands, we will leverage blockchain to advance this vision and build a new education system that is independent of schools and governments, and that is owned and led by educators themselves.”
- The new platform will be interactive, as it rewards educators who design tools and content with ownership rights enforced through blockchain-based tokens, the company said, adding that certificates and diplomas could also be issued as digital tokens.
- Animoca Brands held a 3.73% stake in TinyTap prior to the buyout. (SCMP)
Chinese Crypto Mining Chipmaker Nano Labs Reportedly Files for Nasdaq IPO
Hangzhou-based crypto mining chip designer Nano Labs has filed for an IPO at the Nasdaq, despite a recent downturn in the global crypto market. Cointelegraph first reported this story.
- Nano Labs has filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its upcoming public offering on the Nasdaq, the world’s second-largest stock exchange, Cointelegraph reported, citing information from Renaissance Capital’s IPO monitoring tool.
- Both Chinese and American tech companies have come under regulatory pressure as the Chinese government introduced legislation targeting areas from anti-monopoly to data protection, while in the US, President Joe Biden last year signed a new executive order aimed at cracking down on anti-competitive practices in Big Tech, among other sectors.
- The regulatory friction has led to a shortage of Chinese issuers’ overseas fundraising. Only two Chinese IPOs have taken place so far in 2022 in New York, raising $49.5 million, compared to 28 IPOs in 2021, which raised $5.8 billion.
- Nano Labs, however, is pressing ahead with its Nasdaq offering even though it is yet to develop a viable product. According to Cointelegraph, the firm plans to transform into a metaverse business, providing computing power for gaming and entertainment.
- The two main shareholders of Nano Labs are co-founders Kong and Sun Qifeng, with 32.8% and 22.3% stakes, respectively.
- Nano Labs’ products are used to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and Filecoin (FIL). (Cointelegraph)
NFT Platforms in China Grow 5x in Four Months Despite Regulatory Scrutiny
Recent data show that the number of platforms for NFTs, or digital collectibles as they are known in China, has grown to over 500, a fivefold increase from February 2022. Cointelegraph first reported this story.
- Local media reported that the steep rise in the number of NFT platforms comes at a time when digital collectibles are becoming increasingly popular in the country, with major tech companies including Tencent and Alibaba joining the space with the launch of their own NFT marketplaces.
- As an alternative to NFTs, digital collectibles live on private blockchains, are backed by China’s fiat currency, and cannot be sold or traded for profit.
- Due to a lack of clarity on regulatory supervision, businesses and individuals continue to engage with digital collectibles. China officially banned all crypto-related mining and trading activities last July.
- While the crypto mining ban once led to a 50% decline in the BTC network hash rate, it did not completely eclipse the mining industry in the country. Bitcoin miners in China accounted for 21.1% of the total global BTC mining hash rate distribution as of early 2022, following only the United States, which produced 37.8% of the total hash rate as of January. (Cointelegraph)
China’s Crypto Investors Unfazed by Market Meltdown
Chinese crypto investors are unfazed by the recent market meltdown that saw the value of BTC plunge by over 70%. SCMP first reported this story.
- Bitcoin has lost over 74% of its value from its record high in November. Its price lurched below $20,000, as a brutal selloff in crypto showed no sign of abating.
- Crypto lending platform Celsius Network has halted withdrawals, while concerns have been rising over the financial health of Coinbase Global, a major US crypto exchange that recently announced its plan to extend its hiring freeze into the “foreseeable future.” Coinbase was once the custodian of $256 billion worth of cryptocurrencies.
- However, many Chinese crypto investors remain optimistic about the market. In an interview with SCMP, Jeremy HM Chou, the Asia-Pacific director of Chains.com, a cryptocurrency and NFT platform, said: “Professionals already knew last month we would enter the bear market, which was a good time for weeding out [overvalued assets]. It’s time to fall back to the fundamental value.”
- Amid a harsh government clampdown on crypto, a sizable community of crypto investors began to emerge in the country. These investors usually have access to foreign bank accounts and can trade on exchanges like Coinbase and Binance by using a virtual private network. (SCMP)
Yahoo to Launch Metaverse Events for Hong Kong Residents Restricted by COVID
Yahoo has announced a series of metaverse and NFT-related activities in Hong Kong. The news came after Meta Platforms outlined its own metaverse plans for the region. Cointelegraph first reported this story.
- The US-based internet media company said that it will host a series of virtual events and concerts for Hong Kong residents in Decentraland, a 3D virtual world running on the Ethereum blockchain.
- Lorraine Cheung, head of audience at Yahoo said that the company sees the metaverse as an attractive alternative for Hong Kong residents to engage in social activities while pandemic restrictions remain in force.
- Hong Kong launched a mandate on June 9 requiring that a negative COVID test be provided in order for people to enter all public venues, including bars and restaurants.
- Yahoo will also launch an NFT exhibition called The Abyss of Kwun Tong, where local artists will virtually recreate the historic neighborhood of Kwun Tong, which has been heavily impacted by redevelopment. (Cointelegraph)
Meta Adds Kid-Safety Features to Metaverse
Meta announced last week that it will roll out several features to enhance safety for pre-teens in its virtual world. It will also add new safety features to Instagram. Forbes first reported this story.
- Parents can monitor and control how their children interact with the metaverse platform using an app connected to Meta’s Quest VR headset. Parents will be able to approve or deny purchases, block apps, view the apps a teen user owns, among other things.
- The parental control feature will only be activated when a teen has linked an account to a parent’s. Parents will now be able to view a child’s screen time, see who the child has friended, and block content from a PC to the VR headset.
- “We’re adding in more in-app interventions to encourage teens to have more positive experiences online with a diversity of content,” Vaishnavi J, Meta’s head of youth wellbeing told Forbes in an interview. “And to also just be more mindful about the time that they’re spending online.”
- On Instagram, parents will now be able to limit the app’s use and view the information around any post a child reports. Instagram will also begin sending notifications (“nudges”) to teen users to reduce the time spent on certain topics that are potentially harmful.
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