We ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and throw in a few random zingers to keep them on their toes!
This week, our 6 Questions go to Alyssa Tsai, founder and CEO of Panony — an incubator, investor and adviser for blockchain and Web3 business.
My name is Alyssa Tsai, and I’m the founder and CEO of Panony. There are three pillars of businesses under our group umbrella. PANews is one of the earliest crypto media outlets in Greater China and South Korea. It has published over 20,000 articles, with an average of over 5 million page views per month. At Panony, we invest in blockchain projects worldwide and consult Fortune 500 companies for integration and expansion into the industry, spanning the entire spectrum of the blockchain industry from solution providers and exchanges to public chains, protocols and DApps. I’m also a limited partner of NGC Ventures, the Animoca Metaverse Fund and the Delta Fund.
Before falling down the rabbit hole of crypto, my prior work experience included Condé Nast, Isentia, Ogilvy and a high-tech law firm. I also actively speak at and moderate global blockchain conferences.
1 — What is the main hurdle in the way of the mass adoption of blockchain technology?
The industry is still in its infancy. We should be aware of the many challenges, though it’s already a buzzword in the tech world. The scalability problem is directly related to adoption and blockchain implementation. This question is about whether the system can operate smoothly as demand increases, which inevitably determines mass integration.
It’s also important to address that the complexity of blockchain technology limits mass markets’ ability to appreciate the benefits. The entry barrier is high, so people need to make an effort to understand, not to mention having to keep up with the rapid changes and disruptions. Now they might as well use an adequately good solution for their needs, like regular financial services.
That’s why I feel like I’m doing a meaningful job every day. It’s early for blockchain and never too early for us. There are so many things to do and so many people we can support through education. The future is now.
2 — Which countries are doing the most to support blockchain, and which ones will be left behind?
Since I’m based out of Greater China, I can share what’s happening here from my perspective.
Chinese President Xi Jinping once stated that the country needs to “seize the opportunities” given by blockchain technology. Following that principle, China has been developing a platform, known as the Blockchain-based Service Network, aimed at making blockchain technology implementation easier for businesses. Many governments are experimenting with a CBDC — a central bank digital currency, which has blockchain at its core — and China is piloting its digital yuan.
In recent years, the nation has issued statements supporting the development of blockchain tech across several sectors, with an ambition to consolidate the technology into its financial and growth strategies. We also appreciate its intention to build up industrial norms, or tariff incentives to support blockchain-based businesses.
Hong Kong has a robust system that has given birth to Animoca Brands, Crypto.com, BitMEX and many other exceptional companies in the industry. And on a global scale, Switzerland has SEBA Bank, the first regulated crypto bank in the country. In 2016, Zug’s local government became the first municipality in the world to accept taxes in Bitcoin; and in 2020, the Swiss authorities allowed citizens and companies based in Zug to pay their taxes in either Bitcoin or Ether.
Other countries such as the United States, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and South Africa also play significant parts in the blockchain ecosystem.
3 — What would you like to see tokenized? When, if ever, do you expect this to happen?
The history of art in museums, like the Dunhuang Murals. I visited years ago and learned that many experts and scientists are working tirelessly to discover a solution to slow down the oxidation of wall paintings caused by light and air exposure. Tokenizing these could help bring in more money for research and democratize art investment by making art pieces accessible to the general public. It could happen at any time.
In addition, charity work and support for research would be great to see tokenized, especially under the shadow of COVID-19.
4 — What makes sense to you, and what makes no sense whatsoever?
Gender equality. As a young female entrepreneur who originates from the East and connects to the West, I plead for more investment and education around women. I have met so many powerful women of diverse backgrounds, and they are just as smart and hard-working as men. In reality, challenges remain: There is discriminatory legislation, societal practices persist, and women continue to be underrepresented in leadership at all levels.
Speaking of education, children being taught to learn for the sake of their parents’ pride does not make sense to me. We should pay attention to personal growth.
5 — Which alternate movie universe would you most like to live in, and why?
Marvel’s. It dawned on me at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that we really could have a mighty superhero who could save thousands of lives. Furthermore, the films are about incredible, exciting voyages through time and space. I’d love to discover new worlds. For the time being, I’ll have to settle on crypto as my wild new world to explore.
6 — Think of a favorite poem or musical lyric. What is it, and why does it speak to you?
From “Bring in the Wine” by Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty: “When hopes are won, oh, drink your fill in high delight; And never leave your wine cup empty in the moonlight! Heaven has made us talents; we’re not made in vain. A thousand gold coins spent; more will turn up again.” For people who might be interested in the original version — 李白《将进酒》：“人生得意须尽欢，莫使金樽空对月。天生我材必有用，千金散尽还复来。”
I learned this classical Chinese poem during middle school, and it was eye-opening for me at the time how people living thousands of years ago could live their life to the fullest even when excluded from a position working for the emperor. I guess that’s how I learned about resilience and not being afraid of challenges.
Even today, I still remember every single word of this poem that inspires and empowers me — it’s like I’m encouraged to be someone like Li Bai, who continues to push forward despite the difficulties and stay truthful. I just keep on doing things I believe in, even when feeling down.
A wish for the young, ambitious blockchain community:
Be aggressive and inclusive. Get to know your community, and listen to your community. Lift and add value to one another through collaboration and fair competition.