Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.
SUI rises to glory as Sun sets sights on it
On April 30, cryptocurrency exchange Binance unveiled two LaunchPools for the then-up-and-coming listing of Sui tokens. As a layer-1 blockchain created by Mysten Labs, which in turn was founded by former Meta executives, the Sui project was eagerly anticipated and raised $300 million from venture capitalists such as FTX Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, Jump Crypto, a16z and Circle Ventures. On Binance, users could either stake BNB or TrueUSD (TUSD) to farm a share of 40 million Sui tokens.
To say that the LaunchPools were oversubscribed would be an understatement. Despite just 0.4% of the 10 billion Sui being up for grabs, the retail frenzy saw the BNB-Sui farm pool surpass 8.895 million BNB staked and the TUSD-Sui farm pool top 892.6 million TUSD staked, totaling a combined $3.8 billion at the time of publication.
The thirst for Sui was so great that on May 1, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), co-founder and CEO of Binance, publicly rebuked Tron founder Justin Sun for a deposit of 56.1 million TUSD on the exchange.
“Our team told Justin, if he uses any of these to grab the LaunchPool Sui token, we will ‘take action against it.’ SMH. Binance LaunchPool are meant as air drops for our retail users, not just for a few whales,” CZ wrote.
Interestingly, it appears as if the publicity raised questions over the extent of Sun’s involvement in TUSD. On May 4, TrueUSD developers stated that “TrueUSD was never owned by Justin Sun” in response to allegations.
Anyways, Sun quickly apologized with regard to the deposit, claiming that the funds were intended for “market making,” but nevertheless, “some of our team members were not fully aware of the intended purpose for these funds,” and used them to “participate in exchange campaigns.” The blockchain personality wrote that the Tron DAO has contacted Binance and “arranged for a full refund.” On the same day, 278,752 SUI in farmed rewards were returned to the TUSD LaunchPool.
Three days after the Binance LaunchPool event, the Sui token was listed on Binance after its mainnet finally came online, with network transactions averaging a rate of five per second. That relatively low metric has not stopped Sui from having a fully diluted market capitalization of $13.65 billion, and that’s despite a 70% plunge from its opening price in a matter of hours, according to CoinMarketCap. At the time of publication, each Sui was worth $1.36 apiece, representing a 1,260% gain from its offering price of 0.1 USDT last month.
All the wild trading was apparently too much for some exchanges to handle. On May 4, Mingxing Xu, founder of OKX, issued anapologyto customers who “can’t cancel order” and purchased Sui at a higher price than intended.
“We are so sorry for the inconvenience and will fix the trading system bug asap to prevent it happening again in the future.”
Even the Sui team seemed concerned about the rampant levels of speculation, as they reportedly asked “cooperative exchanges” not to launch Sui perpetual contracts. Some ignored the request and immediately listed them anyway. The same day, Sui developers also launched the Sui Token Bridge, which connects 22 blockchains to Sui through Wormhole.
APAC exchanges love PEPE
On May 1, meme cryptocurrency PEPE surged by over 60% in a single day after cryptocurrency exchange OKX announced the listing of PEPE tokens. OKX staff wrote in the announcement that the underlying cartoon character, Pepe the Frog, “is one of the most popular memes in the world.” Well, they weren’t going to highlight the use cases, with PEPE’s own website calling it “completely useless.”
OKX isn’t the only exchange active in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region with a liking for PEPE. Around the week starting April 17, cryptocurrency exchanges BingX, Huobi, Gate.io, MEXC Global and Bitget all listed PEPE within days of one another. The move sparked a major bull run that saw the token soar over 2,000% to trade at $0.00000133 at time of publication.
Despite its popularity, it’s unclear if PEPE has any association with Matt Furie, the cartoonist who created Pepe the Frog (seems unlikely, however). The token’s creators have remained anonymous. It appears that investors don’t seem to mind at all, as PEPE’s total market cap has since surpassed $550 million. If you want to support Furie’s work, you can pick up a genuine Pepe NFT for under $30.
3AC founders’ philosophy is a pearl
Recently, Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority published a written reprimand of the OPNX Exchange, which was created by Singaporean hedge fund Three Arrows Capital’s co-founders, Kyle Davies and Su Zhu. In the letter, regulators warned that OPNX was operating in the Emirate of Dubai on an “unregulated basis,” and marketing and advertising the exchange and its native FLEX token “without the necessary permits.”
“Following the launch, and with the continued lack of satisfactory remedial action by the responsible parties, VARA is continuing to actively monitor the situation and investigate OPNX’s activity to assess further corrective measures that may be required to protect the market.”
Last June, the Monetary Authority of Singapore reprimanded 3AC for exceeding its $188 million cap on assets under management and allegedly providing false information to investors. The defunct hedge fund owed approximately $3.5 billion to creditors when it filed for bankruptcy at approximately the same time.
But just like with 3AC, it appears that resolving regulatory scrutiny is neither a key priority for Davies nor Zhu. Shortly after the announcement, Davies, who now works as a professional chef, divulged his appetite for oysters while explaining their spiritual relationship to entrepreneurship in terms of Hellenistic and Classic Chinese philosophy. “They are a potent reminder of the power of turning harsh conditions into something beautiful.” Aw, shucks.
Meanwhile, Zhu, who is also a philosophy enthusiast, seems to have followed the Buddhist school by explaining to his audience the “nonduality” of political ideologies such as communism and capitalism.
3AC creditor and BitMEX co-founder Arthur Hayes discovered an even deeper meaning behind the pair’s messages. He pointed out that there were exactly six oysters on Davies’ dinner plate, and theorized that each oyster symbolized one piece of his $6 million claim from 3AC’s bankruptcy proceedings. Court procedures are currently ongoing.
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