Startups pin high hopes on blockchain and NFT technologies

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Vietnamese startups have high expectations for blockchain technology, envisioning practical impacts on e-commerce and entertainment as the country continues its digital transformation.

“We dream of becoming a billion-dollar company,” said Nguyen Tuan Quynh, president of book distributor Saigon Books, as he talked about a new project that uses blockchain in the production of podcasts and audiobooks.

He said he wanted to create a blockchain-based platform for users, including celebrities, to produce audio content and earn money. The audios will be distributed in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are digital assets that represent items such as art, music, game items, and videos, and have unique identification codes. They are bought and sold online, often with cryptocurrencies.

“It will be long, but we have taken the first steps. We also aim to have a foreign language to take this platform overseas,” Quynh said.

Nguyen Tran Phi Yen, director of communications at online event hosting platform Fan8.Club, is working on a project with a hotel partner that will create one million reservation NFTs at high-end hotels in Vietnam.

“Blockchain is no longer something from the future. It has real products now.

Vietnamese startups have been making headlines since last year with their use of blockchain technology. Blockchain games like Axie Infinity and financial apps like Coin98 Finance have raised millions of dollars.

Vietnam’s blockchain market is expected to witness double-digit growth during 2023-2027 as the development of 5G across the country facilitates the formation of smart cities, according to a report by TechSci Research.

Nguyen Thanh Nam, president of blockchain solutions provider OneBlock Labs, said the technology could be used to trace the origins of agricultural products, develop web browsers with better privacy protection and facilitate electronic governance.

“The government has made many efforts to create a national database using technology. With blockchain, more potentials can be achieved,” he said.

In 2020, the Vietnamese government listed blockchain as one of the top technology research priorities to be applied in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.

The Ministry of Science and Technology plans to allow some blockchain companies to use the technology to test some of their employee benefits ideas this year. Startups say they are aware of the challenges of developing blockchain technology, with high salaries for programmers being one of them.

“Hiring programmers to create a blockchain application costs four to five times more than a normal application,” said Quynh of Saigon Books.

Finding a team of experienced blockchain technicians who understand the market is very difficult, said Nam of OneBlock Labs.

“It is therefore crucial to start developing blockchain human resources.”

Fan8.Club’s Yen said the world will soon have ready-made blockchain platforms for companies to use and create their own products, and Vietnamese companies can take advantage of them instead of building everything from scratch.

Some industry insiders have also warned of the potential for blockchain misuse.

Pham Phuoc Nguyen, Head of Digital Operations at Coin98 Finance, said, “Not everything needs blockchain. Some can be done the traditional way.

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