Digital Asset Investment Forum 2018

It’s 4.10am here in Washington D.C. and I’m having a jetlag. It’s 5.10pm in Kuala Lumpur!

So I figured, since I couldn’t sleep, why not write a blogpost to share what I’ve learnt here in Washington so far.

What Am I Doing Here in Washington?

Thanks to the invitation by Xiaochen Zhang, the founder of Global Digital Economy Council, I flew here from South Korea 3 days ago to attend the DAIF (Digital Asset Investment Forum) here in Washington.

About Xiaochen Zhang

Xiaochen is a Chinese residing here in the United States. A brilliant man who leads the design and implementation of Fintech and blockchain solutions. He has adviced government agencies and multinational organizations on innovation, emerging technologies and investment in positions at the World Bank, United Nations, and other international partnership platforms.

I was here to attend his event titled ‘Digital Assets Investment Forum’, an event that connects digital assets experts, technology pioneers and cryptocurrency investors from all over the world.

These are my top 3 takeaways from this entire forum:

1) Conceptualization to Application

Like 1993 when the world was introduced to the word ‘Internet’, we are currently at the stage when the world is being introduced to the word ‘Blockchain’.

Today, blockchain is like that late 1900s of internet – lots of use case potential, but substantial effort is required to realize it’s fullest potential. Initially, I was highly skeptical because there have been too much of the hype around blockchain with so many crypto gurus and seminar being created over the past few months. However, the DAIF has showed me many strong evidence that blockchain technology could transform existing business models and invent new forms of business in a profound way.

Bitcoin and Ethereum was created to solve an inefficiency of the existing financial markets. Soon, we will see a token economy to solve the existing inefficiencies of the existing Blockchain markets.

2) Initial Coin Offerings

ICO is a method used by blockchain startups or cryptocurrency ventures to raise funds. Very similar to crowdfunding. Rather than fund raising in normal, fiat currencies, ICO’s crowdfunding is centered on cryptocurrencies. Therefore, this method allows startups to bypass the rigorous and regulated capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks. The crypto tokens issued after an ICO is supposedly functional units of currency that can be used as payments or a form of utility.

Year 2017 saw 885 ICOs and $6 billion of funding being raised. It has now surpassed and tripled the amount raised from mainstream VC funding!

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At this point of time, the largest PEs and VCs in China, such as Fenbushi Capital and Jiuding Capital, are also getting into the game by setting up funds that exclusively invest in Blockchain-enabled companies.

3) Investment Opportunities in Blockchain

With echos of disruption already being heard across multiple industries in blockchain, I thought that it would be prudent to explore the blockchain investment opportunities by looking at what the PE and VC funds are exploring right now.

One panelist shared that there is tremendous opportunity for blockchain development in the financial industry. Now that banks have decided to stop fighting blockchain technology and start adopting it, the door is wide open for companies that can provide blockchain solutions to the financial institutions, both large and small.

As one of the hottest features of blockchain is its ability to facilitate smart contracts, another area where developers are reaping handsome rewards by introducing the concept of smart contracts into manufacturing and supply chain management. Supply chain management has proven to be a willing market for blockchain technology. We will also see smart contracts increasingly being a part of logistics platforms.

One particular panel who impressed me was Tong Gao, the founder of Token Club. This young entrepreneur founded the largest investors syndication community in China that connects all crypto investors (from newbies to professionals) to profit from the crypto space.

My Biggest Takeway

The DAIF was a great opportunity for me to understand how blockchain is disrupting industries across the board, who the players are, and how can an investor like myself get a piece of the market.

After the conference, our team got together and discussed about our different takeaways and learning from the conference. It’s no doubt that blockchain and cryptocurrency is poised for explosive growth, but great rewards only come to those who hustle, at the right place, and at the right time.

Jian Sun, the managing partner of Jiuding Capital and founder of JLab Blockchain Fund, shared that there is now an elite group of blockchain entrepreneurs and developers in China known as the “3AM Club”.

So why 3AM?

Because that’s what time most of them finish work every single day. At 3am, they will get together in a Wechat chatroom to discuss the latest development in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital assets, before they go to sleep!

And guess what? They will be wide-awake working again at 6am!

When I first heard about it, I thought to myself, “That’s some insane level of hustling, isn’t it?”

This is the elite group of movers and shakers of the entire blockchain industry in China (and probably the world!)

My overall takeaway?

The hype in the media about bitcoin and cryptocurrency currently outpaces the development of blockchain. However, when I’m in such an environment of solid blockchain ecosystem, I’m excited about the evolution of blockchain and how it will transform the global world of business.

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