Animoca Leads $10 Million Funding Round In Hong Kong NFT Platform Amid Crypto Craze

<SUNBIGHT>~Cryptocurrency~Orie~27th February,2022 @ 19:10 WAT

UCOLLEX, a Hong Kong-based NFT platform, has pulled $10 million fresh capital from local blockchain game developer Animoca Brands.

The startup’s latest funding round comes as sales of the digital collectibles are gaining ground in the city, which has seen an increasing number of projects launched over the past year. 

Another investor who also participated in the fundraising is MCP IPX One Fund, an investment fund established by the Japanese branch of MCP Asset Management and Animoca, according to a statement issued on Thursday.

Ucollex said the financing round values the company at $110 million. The new capital will be used to strengthen its team and its platform with the aim of delivering an experience that combines digital collectibles and entertainment through features such as virtual artwork battles, cofounder and CEO Robert Tran said in a written response.

“We believe there is still a lot to do to turn collectors from being passive supporters to becoming an integral and active part of the development process,” Tran added. “As long as more creators are emerging and content is growing at the pace that we have experienced in the last few years, there will be tremendous growth for Ucollex.”

NFTs—short for non-fungible tokens—are crypto assets that record the ownership of a digital item such as a piece of artwork, a photo or a video. Anyone can create, or “mint,” NFTs, by uploading their digital files to a blockchain that acts as a public ledger. 

Established in 2020 by Robert Tran and Raymond Hung, Ucollex is a marketplace that sells NFTs featuring toys and pop culture collectibles. Prior to the crypto business, Tran cofounded local watch brand Undone and iClick Interactive Asia, a marketing technology company listed on the Nasdaq. While Hung’s career includes a stint serving as the CTO of Undone as well as working at Microsoft Hong Kong for more than a decade.  

Last year, Ucollex teamed up with world’s largest crypto exchange Binance and British luxury fashion brand Jimmy Choo to launch a NFT collection. (Disclosure: Binance recently announced a strategic investment in Forbes.)

Yat Siu, cofounder and chairman of Animoca, said he believes his company’s latest investment in Ucollex will make it easier for intellectual properties to participate in the metaverse, according to the statement. 

Ucollex’s funding round underscores the increasing popularity of NFTs in Hong Kong, which has seen an increasing number of new projects emerged over the past year.

Among the successful launches are Shrooms, an NFT collection featuring three-dimensional mushroom avatars with Asian elements such as mahjong and red banners. The project said on its Twitter that all of its 3,888 NFTs were sold out within two minutes after its public launch in January. 

But as the emerging market for NFTs has grown, so too have reports of scams. Monkey Kingdom, a Hong Kong NFT project that has more than 23,000 followers on Twitter, said it became the unwitting victim of theft in December.

Buyers of the NFTs lost 7,000 Solana tokens, which translates to about $1.3 million at the time, after a hacker infiltrated the project’s group chat and posted a phishing link, which was used to steal personal data and gain access to their accounts. Monkey Kingdom said it had launched a fund to compensate the victims for some of their losses.■

[Courtesy: Zinnia LEE// Forbes]


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