NFT startup RTFKT Studios has raised $8 million in a seed funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). Among others, Hong Kong billionaire Adrian Cheng participated in the round. Adrian Cheng is the CEO and executive vice-chairman of New World Development. This is the first time a Hong Kong tycoon has become a major investor in an NFT platform.
Adrian Cheng Chi-kong, a third-generation scion of the family that controls New World Development, is also founder and chairman of K11, a high-end mall brand targeting younger consumers.
In 2019, Cheng launched K11 MUSEA, part of the US$2.6 billion Victoria Dockside development that is transforming Hong Kong’s harbour front.
Adrian Cheng invested in RTFKT Studios via his private venture capital firm C Ventures. In the announcement on Medium, RTFKT Studios mentioned Adrian Cheng and C Ventures right after a16z. RTFKT describes Adrian Cheng as their “secret card to empower our ideas and creations to the most innovative region in the world with unbelievable expertise.”
Along with a16z and Adrian Cheng, other investors in the round include Ledger, Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou, Genie founder Akash Nigam and several others.
RTFKT is best known for holding an NFT sale of digital sneakers in collaboration with artist Fewocious in March. The sale yielded over $3 million in under 7 minutes. With the fresh capital, RTFKT plans to build its own NFT marketplace.
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“RTFKT aspires to build the first digital-first fashion label. [They are] building ‘Digital Supreme’ starting with sneakers. As we spend more time in virtual worlds, we will care just as much about our digital sneakers/handbags as we do our physical ones,” said a16z partner Jonathan Lai. “Digital fashion will be huge as we spend more time socializing virtually.”
Adrian Cheng’s investment in NFT platform RTFKT could potentially accelerate the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies into the mainstream Hong Kong market. However, Hong Kong banks’ hostile approach to crypto trading and fund transfer activities remains a major challenge.
Meanwhile in the United States, customers of some banks will soon be able to buy, hold and sell Bitcoin (BTC) through their existing accounts. Crypto custody service provider NYDIG has partnered with fintech giant Fidelity National Information to enable U.S. banks to offer Bitcoin in coming months.
For now, hundreds of banks and lending institutions in the US are already enrolled in the program. Banks are now asking for Bitcoin because they can see their customers sending dollars to Coinbase, Kraken and other crypto exchanges, according to Yan Zhao, president of NYDIG.
“This is not just the banks thinking that their clients want bitcoin, they’re saying `We need to do this, because we see the data,’” Zhao said. “They’re seeing deposits going to the Coinbases and Galaxies and Krakens of the world.”
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