Digestible news on the latest developments across the fields of NFTs, blockchain, and metaverse in Greater China, compiled for you every week by Pandaily.
This week: Chinese startup Nreal to launch AR glasses in the UK this spring, “Voices of April” NFTs highlight Shanghai residents’ struggles with harsh lockdown rules, Hong Kong to launch yuan-denominated trading to cater to mainland Chinese investors, and more.
Chinese Startup Nreal to Launch AR Glasses in UK This Spring
The Beijing-based company said on April 26 it will release its Nreal Air AR glasses in Britain later this spring through an exclusive deal with local carrier EE, which is owned by telecoms group BT, according to CNBC.
- Nreal’s glasses allow users to watch movies or play games on large visual displays. Users can do so by connecting the glasses to their smartphone through a cable. The Nreal Air’s design looks like sunglasses, similar to Snap’s Spectacles series of smart glasses.
- Nreal Air supports two main modes: “Air Casting” and “MR Space.” Air Casting lets users view their phone screen on a 130-inch virtual display when standing four meters away, while MR Space combines digital objects with a user’s surrounding space.
- Nreal did not give an exact release date or price for the device. A spokesperson said more details will be revealed “at a later date.”
- Founded in 2017, the company has created two AR headsets to date: the Nreal Light and Nreal Air, the latter of which debuted last year. So far, the company has raised more than $230 million from investors including Alibaba, NIO Capital and Sequoia Capital China, and is currently valued at over $700 million. (CNBC, Pandaily)
SEE ALSO: Chi Xu – Mapping a New Reality
“Voices of April” NFTs Highlight Shanghai Residents’ Struggles with Harsh Lockdown Rules
OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace, saw the creation of over 600 NFTs related to ongoing COVID-induced lockdowns in Shanghai, according to Forkast News.
- Residents in Shanghai are creating NFTs to get around strict government censorship of social media content related to the harsh lockdown affecting 28.5 million people.
- More than 600 NFTs were minted based on “Voices of April,” an audio montage documenting Shanghai residents’ frustration and desperation as they interacted and clashed with medical staff and neighborhood compound managers.
- The video montage first appeared on social media on Friday and soon circulated across Chinese internet platforms. An NFT minter was also set up to raise funds for people in Shanghai, though it’s unclear who the creator is.
- The lockdown, among the strictest the country has seen, has plunged the once-bustling city into a virtual ghost town, causing shortage of food, daily necessities and even medical access for many of its millions of residents confined to their homes. (Forkast News, CNN)
Hong Kong to Launch Yuan-Denominated Trading to Cater to Mainland Chinese Investors
Hong Kong is ready to launch yuan-denominated stock trading to cater to investors in Shanghai and Shenzhen, with final clearances from regulators in mainland China expected in the second half of the year, reported Bloomberg.
- The city’s infrastructure is largely ready to accommodate trading of shares in the Chinese currency via the southbound Stock Connect link, but exchanges in the mainland and clearing houses need more time for testing and final preparations.
- Hong Kong has been seeking to build itself into a hub for offshore yuan trading by introducing more products denominated in the mainland currency.
- However, experts say that the channel will likely have little impact on “yuan internationalization,” since buyers of yuan stocks will be China-based firms.
- According to data compiled by Bloomberg, mainland investors bought a total of HKD 1.58 billion ($202 million) in Hong Kong-listed stocks per day on average since this year via Stock Connect, representing a 73% drop from last year.
- The link provides a channel for two-way flows between Hong Kong and the mainland with the capital kept in a closed-loop system to accommodate Chinese capital controls. (Bloomberg)
SEE ALSO: The Hong Kong Stock Exchange
Earn While You Burn: OliveX
OliveX is a Hong Kong-based digital fitness company that rewards players with crypto and NFTs as they flee pirates and monsters across a dystopian wasteland.
- Gamers can earn OliveX’s native DOSE tokens and NFTs by completing missions within OliveX’s adventure game that requires them to run in the real world with smartphones in their hand. The virtual rewards they accumulate can be used to level up games, or to be traded on crypto exchanges and NFT marketplaces.
- According to OliveX, its “move-to-earn” strategy enables the company to tap into three booming industries by combining physical fitness with mobile games that live on the blockchain. In the long run, the company aims to build an ecosystem of fitness games integrated with Animoca Brands’ TheSandbox, a virtual world where players can build, buy and sell their in-game assets.
- The Australia-listed company raised AUD 8 million through a share placement last November. The proceeds were used to develop Dustland Runner, a blockchain title that was launched in late March.
- OliveX is currently working on a new product design which it has acquired from fitness gaming platform Sol Cycle for the launch of its next title, Dustland Rider. The blockchain game replaces running with cycling, and could come out as early as June. After that, Olive X plans incorporate more sports, such as boxing and rowing, and to begin using motion detection technology in its games.
- OliveX’s decision to develop blockchain games has led to a 100% increase in its market cap in the past year to its current level of AUD 190.5 million. OliveX is a spinoff of Hong Kong-based gaming software and venture capital company Animoca Brands, which was valued at $5.4 billion during its latest funding round in January. (Forbes)
Goldman Sachs Offers Bitcoin-Backed Loans
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. offered its first ever lending facility backed by Bitcoin, the latest sign that Wall Street is moving further into crypto, according to Bloomberg and CoinDesk.
- According to a spokesperson for the bank, the facility lends cash collateralized by Bitcoin owned by the borrower.
- The deal was interesting to Goldman because of its structure and 24-hour risk management, the spokesperson added in an email to Bloomberg.
- Goldman, which has a dedicated digital assets team, traded its first over-the-counter bitcoin options to Galaxy Digital in March.
- According to Bloomberg, Goldman’s move signals that traditional finance giants are moving a step further into crypto:
- Earlier this week, private equity firm Apollo Global Management hired former JPMorgan executive Christine Moy to serve as its first head of digital assets strategy.
- Jefferies Financial Group Inc. is expanding banking services for crypto clients, while BlackRock Inc. joined a $400 million funding round in stablecoin firm Circle this month.
- Boutique investment bank Cowen Inc. also started a digital assets unit in March. (Bloomberg, CoinDesk)
South African Wine Producers Auction NFTs via Fine Art Auctioneer
A collection of five South African wines have now been sold as NFTs, marking a new first for the country’s fine wine industry, reported Winetitles Media, an Australian wine industry publisher.
- The auction was undertaken through Strauss & Co, a fine art auctioneer and consultant, with several wine estates, including Klein Constantia, Meerlust, Mullineux, Kanonkop and Vilafonté, putting their collections under the gavel.
- Successful bidders now hold the NFTs in a custodial or private wallet which can be viewed on the blockchain. While each collection is an NFT, the individual bottles are also “minted” as NFTs and can be drawn or traded at any time on any NFT platform around the world.
- The NFTs raised nearly 3 million RAND ($186,800). Two of the lots were paid with Bitcoin immediately after the sale.
- “It shows that collectors value the ability to own and trade fine wines through these new ownership certificates,” Fanfire Web3 CEO Gert-Jan Van Rooyen said. “We envision a future where collectors can hold an entire portfolio of wines from across the world in their crypto wallets.” (Winetitles Media, Cointelegraph)
That’s it for this week’s newsletter – thanks for reading! As always, I welcome any feedback on how to make this newsletter better. My email is [email protected]. See you again next week!