Frozen assets await crypto-thaw that may never come

After a bitter crypto winter comes a bitter crypto spring

Those misguided, greedy or incompetent souls still tied to volatile digital assets may be about to discover that the worst is still to come. Frozen assets await a crypto-thaw that may never come.

Businesses and exchanges are set to crumble and fall in the months ahead, extending the rout of cryptocurrencies that may yet turn out to be terminal.

According to today’s SCMP, Asia’s doyens of digital assets face a quandary that is as clear as it is daunting: how to restore faith in cryptocurrencies and NFTs as their value tanks, while convincing investors that the new financial order is better than the previous one.

Yusho Liu, co-founder of Singapore exchange Coinhako, says the game is far from up for digital coins despite the bitcoin embarrassment after the fall of FTX. The world’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange with more than one million users turned out to be fraud more or less in every aspect of its operations.

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Liu told This Week in Asia…

“We acknowledge the waning confidence in the crypto space, but our outlook for 2023 remains bullish.”

Liu is an optimist. He has to be, with more than 380,000 customers, but he is not alone. While the world applauds free-falling cryptocurrencies, the firms that survived are trying to find a new way to rip money from the pockets of foolish investors.

Singapore’s Gillman Barracks – a cluster of international art galleries – are still desperately trying to convince passers-by of the value of NFTs. The exhibition called “Proof of Concept” brought together some of the most influential names in the digital and crypto art world – a whole new world of danger and vivid imaginings.

Liu, whose firm sponsored the event, said…

“The intrinsic value of NFTs has recently been challenged.”

He may be right, but it looks more like the value of NFTs has been discovered, not challenged, and discovered to be pretty close to zero. But the desperate Liu claims cryptically that his exhibition “is a testament to how a crypto project can bring value to the space and the public.”

But not everyone is as enthusiastic, or scared. After a year of scandals and losses, many fintech start-ups are laughably incompetent and disturbingly corrupt. The crypto landscape might have been the future once, but today looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland of burned-out wrecks.

Economics professor, Antonio Fatas said…

“Crypto is not the future. Technology is the future. A digital world is the future.”

He appears to be at least a third correct. Bitcoin recovered some of its value since FTX went under, but is still well below its 2021 peak.

Genesis, a cryptocurrency lender that operates in New York, London and Singapore, last week filed for bankruptcy listing more than 100,000 creditors. It follows crypto-hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, which folded last year. Crypto-lender Hodlnaut is under judicial management in Singapore. has fired a fifth of its workforce.

Thailand’s frozen assets await a crypto-spring made less likely by the collapse of crypto-exchange Zipmex last year. Siam Commercial Bank, the country’s oldest lender partly owned by the Thai king, has shelved plans to acquire Bitkub, another cryptocurrency exchange.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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