Malaysian artist debuts on booming NFT market now spreading to Asia

07, Jul. 2021

“Doge the Moon”, Red Hong Yi’s first NFT from her meme banknotes series, is now available at the Binance NFT Marketplace. (Photo: Annice Lyn)
“Doge the Moon”, Red Hong Yi’s first NFT from her meme banknotes series, is now available at the Binance NFT Marketplace. (Photo: Annice Lyn)

By Celine Chen

SINGAPORE, NNA - Renowned Malaysian contemporary artist Red Hong Yi has joined the hot-rising NFT (non-fungible tokens) market with the launch of a series of arty-crafty meme banknotes.

Her first NFT in the series dropped on Binance on June 27 as part of the crypto platform's inaugural 100 creators program to launch its Binance NFT Marketplace.

The cryptocurrency exchange recently launched the new marketplace for the trade of digital music, art, and collectibles despite increasing pressures from regulators scrutinizing crypto markets for illegal dealings.

NFTs, which are mostly issued on Ethereum blockchain, have erupted in popularity this year, with creations such as artworks going for as high as millions of dollars. The ownership and authenticity of these unique digital assets are tracked on a blockchain.

Reflecting how meme assets, cryptocurrencies and NFTs have disrupted traditional banking and art galleries, Red Hong Yi's meme banknotes spoof paper money by tweaking the Chinese yuan, US dollar, Euro, British pound, Malaysian ringgit and Japanese yen and incorporating elements from the fun meme culture.

In a press statement, Red Hong Yi said, "NFTs may still be a novel concept to many, but I do believe in its potential to create a more transparent and efficient world. NFTs have been gaining prominence in the arts industry in recent times and have allowed artists to create digital certificates of ownership for their valuable work."

Her first meme banknote to drop on Binance's NFT Marketplace is inspired by the Chinese Yuan. Named "Doge the Moon", it pays homage to China for being at the forefront of the cryptocurrency landscape, as well as being the first country in history to issue paper money during the Song dynasty.

Red Hong Yi enthused, "As an artist, I have always been intrigued by how traditional and digital art can be integrated to create timeless masterpieces - uncovering the intricate elements of traditional craftsmanship with digital finishing techniques."

Following the first NFT drop, the other meme banknotes in the series will be minted and available on the Binance NFT Marketplace over the next five months.

Buyers will also own the physical banknotes as well as an accompanying copper plate that has been etched with their design.

Red Hong Yi said, "One concern about fiat money is the continual printing of paper money, which economists warn will lead to inflation. This has led to a large community of everyday people seeking alternative investments."

"This is what my project will be addressing. I will be designing meme-inspired banknotes onto etched copper plates which will allow me to print as many banknotes as I want to," said Red Hong Yi who will stage her "Memebank" exhibition later in the year in Kuala Lumpur.

Many countries have tightened regulations on cryptocurrencies, with countries especially China coming down hard on trading and mining.

Chinese fintech giant Ant Group had to issue a statement to explain the differences between cryptocurrencies and NFTs after a quick sellout of 16,000 copies of non-NFT-backed app images of digital art on its Alipay platform last week raised questions whether the company had violated cryptocurrency rules.

"NFTs are not interchangeable, nor divisible, making them fundamentally different from cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin," according to a statement by the group's AntChain unit.

Last month, a U.K. financial markets regulator banned Binance's local entity, Binance Markets, alleging that it was not doing enough to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes on its platform.

It is the latest in an ongoing crackdown on the crypto universe that has seen billions wiped off the market value of listed U.S. rival Coinbase.

However, it has not dampened Binance's plans to diversify its business and offer the trade of any digital asset that is not a virtual currency. The company believes its considerable liquidity and lower charges will lure content producers to choose its exchange as the hub of choice.

Earlier this year, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey created an NFT of his first-ever tweet and sold it for $2.9 million.

While the NFT market is growing globally, few platforms and marketplaces cater to the Asia-Pacific region, where the booming art market in countries like China accounts for more than 20 percent of the $63 billion global market, said iBox, which is also bringing the NFT craze to Asia's luxury market.

iBox, the first NFT platform incubated by Huobi X Center and launched last week, will work with influencers, artists, and celebrities, as well as widely-recognized brands and intellectual property (IP), to offer exclusive NFT collectibles.

Artmarket.com said the NFT market is still small but burgeoning.

It noted that NFT auctions remain primarily an American specialty. The European auctioneer Millon was the first to organize a dedicated NFT session in Europe on May 20 this year in Brussels.

"With much more reasonable prices – the results ranged from $800 to $23,000 – these sales are helping to strengthen a market still searching for stability," said Artmarket in a statement in early June.