Hi guys, I’m Cris Nguyen, an individual who’ve dedicated to support the growth of Polkadot presence in SEA for the past 1.5 year. After several travelling, meeting with Web 3.0 builders, retail investors, all kinds of crypto enthusiasts with my team Polkadot Insider - a media channel in the ecosystem, I’ve come to realize that Polkadot has yet to align closely with the general trend of market expansion, particularly the Asian region. It’s understandable since the majority of Polkadot’s current community is heavily concentrated in Europe and the Americas, making it easier to adapt the ecosystem’s community culture to members in these regions. This demonstrates the significant success off entities contributing to the ecosystem thus far. However, is Polkadot possibly missing out on substantial expansion compared to competitive counterparts?
2024 is the absolute year of the Dragon in Asian culture and folklore, and I’d like to present some general information about Asia market for the Polkadot community to consider, encouraging policies and resource allocation through various outlets for this prominent and developing region.
ASIA MACRO ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
General Market Recap
Asia’s economic landscape continues to evolve with shifting dynamics in global trade. The region’s market cap showcases a diverse range of economies, from advanced technological hubs like Taiwan, Vietnam, and Singapore to emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These economies are positioning themselves strategically to harness growth opportunities, diversify supply chains, and attract investments.
Asia’s GDP growth trajectory has been resilient, outperforming global forecasts, as highlighted by the International Monetary Fund’s projections. With an expected growth rate of 4.6% in 2023 and 4.2% in 2024, the region demonstrates robust economic momentum. Emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are anticipated to lead this growth, showcasing expansions of 5% or above, contributing significantly to the region’s economic advancement.
In 2024, Asia anticipates entering a particularly promising phase. Fitch forecasts that economic growth across the region, especially in emerging markets, will remain robust. Consumer inflation is expected to moderate, creating a conducive environment for sustained economic expansion. Moreover, the prospects for India, Indonesia, and the Philippines as the fastest-growing economies in the upcoming decade bolster the region’s outlook.
The “flying geese paradigm” is poised to drive economic development, with India and Southeast Asia emerging as potential high-growth engines. These regions are becoming focal points for investment, propelled by efforts to accelerate infrastructure development and attract higher foreign direct investment. South Asia’s services-driven growth model, coupled with Indonesia’s strategic shifts in metal exports and the development of an electric vehicle ecosystem, underscores the diversification and modernization strategies underway.
North Asia, though experiencing slower growth, is not devoid of growth catalysts. Japan’s economy is showing signs of breaking out of deflationary patterns, while Taiwan and Korea are seizing opportunities within the global AI boom. China remains a pivotal player, leading in renewable energy technologies, which positions the nation as a key contributor to the evolving global supply chains in new-energy vehicles, lithium batteries, and solar power generation.
The trends suggest a multi-faceted growth story across Asia, where different regions and economies are contributing distinct strengths to the overall economic landscape. This diversity in growth drivers and strategies indicates a dynamic and promising future for the continent, characterized by innovation, adaptation, and strategic positioning in global markets.
Even though the economy of Asia or the overall market establishment decisions in these countries significantly depend on major decisions from the Americas/Europe, Asian countries exhibit better economic exchange business activities with several competitive advantages, including low-cost inputs. Particularly, Southeast Asian countries are experiencing substantial investments in the technology sector, showing high growth rates compared to input sources (risk investment significantly adjusted due to interest rate “potential reductions”), benefiting from robust resources from previously developed “neighbors” like China, Japan, Korea, etc.
ASIA CRYPTO MARKET
According to Chainalysis 2022 & 2023, the number of Asian countries consistently accounts for more than 40% of the total number of countries in the top 20 adoption index, with Southeast Asia nations respectively dominating the index for 2 years.
The special feature of this adoption index is that the usage behavior of users in countries with medium and low income levels (PPP per capita) surpasses those in higher-income countries. This indicates that users in Asian countries engage in blockchain investment or activities more rapidly, thereby generating significant demand and overall benefits for blockchain projects in terms of traction.
According to The Wall Street Journal, 3 out of 5 nations leading the trading volume in May 2023 are Asian countries (China, South Korea, and Vietnam).
Thought: one of the key initial factors leading to the surge in blockchain and crypto-related activities, transactions in countries with lower-middle-income, stems from the play-to-earn element, and it all began with the success of Axie Infinity with total 48% of players are Vietnamese and Filippinos.
What makes a country ideal for software engineers?
- Job Opportunities
- Salary and Benefits
- Work-life Balance
- Outsourcing Opportunities
- Access to Cutting-edge tech
- Culture and language
- Immigration Policies
Considering these factors, it’s evident that the Southeast Asia market is an incredibly promising environment for seeking and cultivating new & talented engineers because:
Well geopolitic with no boundaries in travelling, when blockchain is all about global connectivity.
Higher income to compare with living expenses in the area, especially with engineers.
Outsourcing these countries’ engineers from global organizations has been no doubt, Web 2.0 engineers already have a long-life learning curve, or cultural impact from numerous workshops, meet ups with previous gen.
Be invested heavily in the tech sector.
**General outlook of Asia developers (data extracted from Github) (Disclaimer: These charts are for reference purposes only and are entirely dependent on GitHub analysis. These metrics may not accurately reflect market trends but still provide an overview of the developer landscape in these areas.)
Moreover, the need for app developers is rapidly rising as more and more businesses from diverse industries are opting for the services of leading app development firms. On a worldwide scale, Asia emerges as the frontrunner, showcasing the largest assembly of app developers, constituting 32.9%. Europe closely follows with a significant 29.7% market share. These statistics are derived from data within the software development sector. Asia notably serves as the epicenter of app development, housing an astonishing 6.5 million software developers.
Zooming out: According to a geographic blockchain developer report by Electric Capital, North America and Europe have a combined total of 58% global blockchain devs, followed by 13% in Asia. India’s blockchain developer alone grew the most consistently from 2% in 2017 to 6% in 2022 considering its population size.
Personal take: We can easily observe that the software engineering field, particularly blockchain engineering, has been heavily prevalent in the US and UK regions for a long time, building a robust industry and establishing these countries as “developed nations” with a vast number of engineers. However, the share of engineers in these continents tends to decrease, shifting towards developing or recently developed regions such as Asia, India, which show a rising trend in the number of engineers, especially within the blockchain industry.
Particularly in Vietnam, the remarkable achievements of Axie Infinity, an online game developed in Vietnam, served as a source of inspiration for numerous crypto gaming startups aiming to replicate its success within the country, as per a report by Fortune.
In specific instances, the evident interest and investment in the Asian developer market are highlighted by events like Polkadot’s Sub0 2024 being held in Bangkok and Ethereum’s renowned developer conference, DevCon 2024, choosing Bangkok as its venue. These events aim to explore and build the developer community with a focus on cultural perspectives.
Despite the outstanding quantities of blockchain engineers/developers conversion in China, Vietnam, and India (still having room for vast increase), other nations like Indonesia, Thailand have paramount numbers of traditional application developers but lack blockchain conversion investment, they are still on the ground of developer education and training efforts.
COMPETITORS’ MARKET APPROACH
Coin98 x Chainlink: This partnership will support the Southeast Asian developer ecosystem across multiple areas of collaboration, including a referral system for verified users needing high-quality Chainlink Web3 services, co-marketing opportunities and support, technical workshops, hackathons and other events, and enhanced access to Chainlink BUILD projects for exploring collaboration opportunities.
Conference/Hackerhouse sponsorship: Aptos, SUI, Polygon, Avalanche, Solana, Astar, NEAR have been investing heavily in those regional conferences that brought them outstanding market approaches with high volume of Web 3.0 applications from local engineers.
YGG Web 3.0 Summit (Manila, Philippines)
Blockchain Genesis (Thailand Blockchain Week, Bangkok)
GM Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Solana Asia Expansion: Superteam has been funded by Solana Foundation Wormhole Foundation, and Circle has been invested resources in Vietnam and India market to attract builders in these regions by establishing strong relationship with local core projects (Coin98), organizing standalone conferences (Solana Hacker House), and numerous workshops and governmental relationship establishment.
NEAR APAC Expansion: NEAR Protocol established NEAR APAC for generating local community, building strong cultural impact, and engaging with developers communities closely.
Ripple, the blockchain tech firm responsible for the XRP cryptocurrency and the RippleNet network, has recognized the APAC region as a vital element in its growth strategy.
POLKADOT ECOSYSTEM FIT
Parachain level (Infrastructure, Appchain)
With the data provided above, as capital flows increasingly head towards Asia for riskier investment choices amid a stabilizing global economy, heavily partnership & support from service providers (toolings, cross-chain application, cloud storage, crypto exchange, etc) for development stimulus from different top blockchain/crypto - related organizations, coupled with heightened investment in training blockchain engineers by other top-tier blockchain projects, Polkadot cannot afford to refrain from actively promoting and seeking talents for this ecosystem.
PS: We need to find “x” numbers of Astar Network team & Sota Watanabe and nowhere else than Asia.
In addition to incentivizing app chains to utilize the Polkadot SDK for development, the Asia region stands out as a significant market for sourcing or drawing in Solidity developers and existing EVM-compatible applications to join the Polkadot ecosystem’s EVM-compatible smart contract platforms. This aims to establish a robust new ecosystem, enhance product and create compelling on-chain marketing narratives. Gaming, a thriving segment in Asia over the past two years, remains a consistent avenue for attracting users and driving on-chain transactions.
Aside from having a large user base and a growing number of talents (developers, marketing, BDs) exploring the Web 3.0 job market, the Asian community has also fostered a network through several perspectives. These include trading communities, cultural digital art communities, the NFT communities (such as NFT Asia, ARCTheCommunity, etc.), comprising builders involved in various Web 3.0 projects. This network facilitates mutual engagement in business advising and cross-promotion activities.