Asia-Pacific has a Great Potential To Lead in Blockchain Adoption
Blockchain is rapidly revolutionizing the way we live and work. Its penetration into Asia-Pacific's broader population is likely to occur at much a faster rate
Putting all the blockchain hype into perspective, if we consider analogous examples of how revolutionary technologies have historically taken root in society – from early adoption to widespread global penetration – blockchain technology can be said to have reached the "early majority" phase. That is, the tech has begun to gain traction and spread exponentially, though we're still way off from 'full adoption.'
Even so, with a market size now expected to exceed $16 billion by 2024, we'll surely witness blockchain changing our world in profound ways over the next decade. The question is how and who will take part in leading.
Findings from a Global Market Insights recent report corroborate many experts' prediction that the Asia-Pacific region is set to usher in a new era. With the region's blockchain market set to grow by an estimated 87 percent over the next six years, blockchain innovation is surging forward in the region.
And while analysts argue over the scope and speed of the 'blockchain revolution,' here are the reasons we'll likely watch part of the next chapter of blockchain adoption unfold in the East.
Blockchain Consumers By The Billions
One of the primary reasons the Asia-Pacific region looks poised to blaze trails in blockchain is its consumer market. Not only is it big – the size of Asia's middle class is expected to reach 3.5 billion by 2030 – but it is especially eager to embrace new technologies.
The region's enthusiasm for cutting-edge tech can be attributed to its uniquely young, tech-curious population. Sixty percent of the world's youth is concentrated in Asia-Pacific. At the same time, a 2016 study by the Consumer Technology Association found that, relative to the US, a much higher percentage of consumers in Asian nations tend to identify themselves as early adopters of new technologies.
Because of this consumer market's size and characteristics, digital currencies – the prevailing prototype of blockchain technologies – are already huge in the region. More than half of cryptocurrency trading occurs on Asia-based exchanges, with Japan's exchanges accounting for half of bitcoin's daily trade volume. In South Korea more than a third of salaried workers are investors in digital currencies. And even in China, where regulations on cryptocurrencies are stringent, excitement over cryptos has led to more patents for cryptocurrencies and blockchain than anywhere else.
According to the Global Market Insights recent report, government initiatives and policies are helping fuel demand for blockchain technology in the region. Governments across the region are exploring ways of implementing the technology in the public sector, while Asian blockchain companies and exchanges report that, unlike their US counterparts, Asian regulators are more eager to work with businesses to establish effective regulations and ensure that companies are compliant.
The Thai government, for example, has proactively welcomed cryptocurrency projects. In 2018, Thai regulators set up cryptocurrency licenses permitting exchanges and ICOs. And, by providing clear and explicit guidelines to blockchain companies, Thailand has managed to attract foreign blockchain businesses. The Thai government is also testing out its own central bank digital currency.
In Singapore, the financial hub of Southeast Asia, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) introduced a regulatory 'sandbox' in 2016. The initiative provides support to blockchain-related businesses that experiment with innovative products, safeguarding them from some of the risks of failure. The nation's Central Bank has also collaborated with a consortium of banks and tech companies on Project Ubin, an initiative aimed at exploring the use of blockchain for payments and securities with the ultimate objective of putting the Singapore dollar on the blockchain.
The governments of South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, and Japan have also invested heavily in blockchain. South Korea recently allotted $880 million to be spent on blockchain development in 2019, while Hong Kong is funding research into how blockchain could make its financial services sector safer and more efficient. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Accelerator Program is hosting the "Block Chain Business Camp Tokyo" to stimulate private investment, and Australia has invested $1.6 million in a blockchain initiative intended to make its key sugar production more competitive.
With national governments simultaneously exploring blockchain implementation in public institutions while also helping encourage its development in the private sector, blockchain penetration into Asia-Pacific's broader population is likely to occur at a faster and faster rate.
Blockchain Job Boom
The final reason to expect Asia to be at the forefront of blockchain development is the rapid increase in blockchain-related job openings and an accompanying rise in those seeking blockchain-related positions. Recruitment firm Robert Walters has observed a 50 percent increase in the number of jobs related to blockchain in Asia since 2017. And according to data from job search engine Indeed, interest in blockchain roles has been continually trending upwards in the region.
A larger and larger pool of talent in the blockchain space is integral to helping the still-fledgling field take off. Until now, the success of many crypto-projects has been limited given the lack of qualified technologists entering the sector. Moreover, as more Asia-Pacific blockchain-related projects develop and mature into fully fledged businesses, these companies are now drawing talent from a wider range of professional backgrounds. Data has shown that professionals with experience in marketing, public relations, and operations are now joining the industry, enabling blockchain projects to realize their full potential.
Having long been a region of global trendsetters in terms of digital innovation, Asia-Pacific's huge and especially keen consumer market, the endorsement of its national governments, and the positive job trends all point to its potential to once more play a pioneering role in the imminent age of blockchain. And if we are indeed on the cusp of widespread adoption, and blockchain comes to revolutionize the way we live and work, it may well be that Asia Pacific nations are in the vanguard.