From art to real estate and community building to online gaming, Albert Yip is going all-in on the many facets of the metaverse
“Besides digital artworks, NFTs have a broad application area which includes supply chains, education, lifestyle, fashion, tourism, entertainment and more,” says Albert Yip, chairman of Syndicate Capital and a fast mover in this creator economy, having established the Meta-REIT fund. The pioneer ESG-driven fund invests in virtual real estate and property developments with a particular focus on NFT technologies in the metaverse space.
A strong believer in technology, Yip sees AI and blockchain as the driving force for social change now and in the future. One of his flagship investments is the Asia CEO Metaverse, the first 3D virtual world in Asia building up the metaverse economy and business community for C-suite executives.
It’s a logical next step for the former chief audit executive for Asia-Pacific of State Street, the second-largest custodian bank in the world. Yip stepped down from this prestigious role in 2018 and decided to transform Syndicate Capital, a family office he founded about 20 years ago, into an international investment company where he could fully devote his passion and energy to economic, social and governance (ESG) and fintech investing.
The first NFT artwork that deeply impressed Yip was “Olympic Happiness”, which was sold by BOA X NFT Marketplace, the first bank-backed marketplace in the world and founded by his business partner, Ian Wen. The first Olympic-themed NFT artwork was jointly created by Wen and internationally renowned artist Dr. Dominic Lam to celebrate the mission of the Olympic spirit and the seven Olympic values: friendship, excellence, respect, courage, determination, inspiration and equality. The Chinese character “happiness” under the five rings, which digitally dances into a dove, signifies the artists’ yearning for peace and joy for humankind.
The bidding for “Olympic Happiness” started on July 23, 2021, coinciding with the opening ceremony of the Tok yo Olympics. The highest bid of US$16,000 was placed by HR H Prince Narithipong Norodom of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to salute the triumph of unity and togetherness at the 2020 Olympic Games in the face of the Covid pandemic.
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The message and background of this NFT greatly inspired Yip, leading him on his own promising NFT journey. His favourite NFT marketplaces include OpenSea, Sotheby’s luxury NFT gallery and Allan Banford’s Artiverse.
“I see NFTs as an application technology rather than an investment,” Yip says. “NFTs are equipped with the intrinsic value of scaleability, accessibility and trendiness. There are a lot of opportunities and possibilities we should explore for the creator economy.”
Also in 2021, Yip developed the Asia CEO Metaverse and NFT membership cards with his good friend, Gary Lam, founder of the Asia CEO Community serving about 15,000 C-suite members across the globe.
“While JP Morgan recently announced that it is the first Wall Street bank to open an account in the metaverse at Decentraland, we have already collaborated with DBS Bank to market corporate clients from our Asia CEO Metaverse in Sandbox in early February of this year,” he says. “Enabled by our NFT membership card, Asia CEO Metaverse is the first virtual world in Asia that focuses on community building for C-suite executives.”
The NFT membership card can be used offline, online and in the virtual world, providing C-suite executives discounts, access to exclusive events, business matching services and many more benefits. “With this never-sleep virtual city and NFT membership card, our members can freely interact with one another in the form of avatars,” Yip says. “This is a wonderful experience for all of them, overcoming many challenges we have to face in the real world, such as time zone differences, the pandemic and geopolitical issues.”
When it comes to the environment, “NFTs are a hot topic; same as carbon net-zero,” Yip says. “How wonderful that these two hot topics can marry each other for the good of the planet?”
To resolve issues caused by climate change, the concept of carbon credit trading is a very effective approach to achieving carbon net-zero or carbon neutrality. However, Yip notes, the current international markets for carbon credit trading are still using paper certificates. There are a lot of drawbacks that reduce the velocity and frequency of carbon credit trading, leading to slow progress in achieving carbon net-zero.
In 2021, Syndicate Capital became a substantial shareholder in Carbon Credit Xchange (CCX), which is the first global carbon trading NFT platform in Asia. To resolve global market inefficiencies, Yip and his CCX team leveraged NFT technologies for IP verification of carbon credit certificates as well as enhancement of the logistics and supply chain of carbon credit management.
“It’s great to see that our NFT solutions have been greatly accepted by many well-known exchanges,” Yip says. “We have been approached by lots of potential investors from different parts of the world, telling us they’re interested in CCX’s Carbon Credit NFT trading platform.”
“A lot of people called me a slasher and I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or not”, says Yip, who is also a passionate fencer and among the first generation to play video games. “All of us know that the real world is imperfect. We’re all looking for our own dreamland and fantasy. When I was a schoolboy, I always wanted to escape reality and dreamt of living in the digital world of Street Fighter.”
Earlier this year, Yip made that dream come true. He and his good friend Clement Chan, a well-known KOL and IT professional, jointly established a fund called Metaverser LPF where the investment allocation will be focused on a wide variety of blockchain projects, including NFTs, IP, artworks and development, to integrate into a core metaverse-based online game, Kwuxia.
“This is a world that satisfies all your fantasies. And, it’s a place where you can be yourself,” reads the Kwuxia slogan. Named for Wuxia (a martial art), it is a play-to-earn game based on blockchain and NFTs. Every holder of the NFT “Kwuxia” will continuously generate Force Tokens (KFT) to experience different gameplays, grow characters and take on different challenges with other Kwuxias to earn rewards.
Kwuxia’s mission is to create a Wuxia metaverse where players want to play, socialise and spend time. It is up to every Kwuxia whether to be a hero, a villain, a hermit, a businessman or any other role. Yip, who was named by LinkedIn as one of the “10 CEOs in Hong Kong you should follow in 2022”, may still be deciding his role. Nevertheless, we’re sure this is only the beginning of his NFT journey.