A good time to explore digital assets

February 13, 2023 | 08:00
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With 10 years of experience in connecting IT and blockchain startups with investors worldwide, Hadi Malaeb, co-founder and CEO of Agora Group, shared with VIR’s Duc Hanh his thoughts on promoting blockchain startup and digital asset space.

Which investment channel will be promising for the investors to look at?

A good time to explore digital assets
Hadi Malaeb, co-founder and CEO of Agora Group

Commodities performed very well in 2022 – a continuation of their performance in 2021. In fact, when S&P500 plunged by 18 per cent over an 18-month period until January 2023, iShares S&P GSCI commodity-indexed Trust rose by 24 per cent. The pandemic, interruption in supply chains, and the war in Ukraine all contributed to higher commodity prices in 2022.

The blockchain and digital asset space was bleak in 2022 with major coins losing value, driven by a series of bankruptcies that rocked some of the major players in the industry like FTX. Terra, Luna, Three Arrow Capital, and other external factors such as rising interest rates and overall economic conditions.

I think the digital asset space will outperform all other classes in 2023.

What is attractive in new advanced development when compared to traditional investment?

When we talk about Industry 4.0, we are not only talking about blockchain – the industry includes other disruptive technologies like AI, big data, robotics, AR, and many others. Investing in these technologies (except for blockchain) is like investing in any other class asset.

Investors are trying to find the next star performance using traditional investment methods. In digital assets, investors are using new tools like tokens to increase their wealth. The benefits for investors are that the process of investing is very simple – you buy tokens at a certain price with the anticipation of selling them later at a higher price. It doesn’t require third parties and can be extremely profitable.

Is this a good time to invest in digital assets, or consider other investment channels?

For me, it is always a good time to invest in digital assets, provided you know what you are getting into. As with any other investment tool, you need to know what you are investing in, weigh the pros and cons, and take informed decisions – other than that, it is pure gambling and you have the same chance of winning than you would have if you were gambling.

Understanding the place of blockchain in the future of society and knowing what connection the actual technology has with the financial assets backed by it is important when you want to decide to invest in digital assets. Some of the hardliners in this space believe in the technology, in decentralised finance, and in financial freedom so much that they think digital assets are the only way of the future.

A good time to explore digital assets
Agora is to organise another global blockchain congress in Vietnam after the first successful event in 2022

What are the opportunities and challenges in 2023 from the perspective of markets such as commodities, blockchain, and other digital assets?

For commodities, I think 2023 will be a very interesting year. Some analysts are prediction that oil will trade at an average of $90 per barrel and that gold will hit $2,100 per ounce and that other commodity prices will still increase in prices despite slow international economic growth. For the digital asset industry, things are beginning to look very promising for 2023. January has seen the biggest increase in Bitcoin’s value since 2013 with a 43 per cent increase. Is this an indication of things to come in 2023? Digital assets don’t operate in a bubble. They are influenced by fundamental economic forces such as interest rate, money supply, and overall economic growth.

As the world adjusts to raising inflation rates and economic slowdown, we will start seeing more robust economic growth and stronger fundamentals, and hence a more resilient digital asset space. However, the industry is expecting an onslaught of regulation this year in order to prevent future FTXs from happening again.

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By Duc Hanh

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