As the strictest COVID-19 border lockdowns begin to ease, a glimmer of hope is appearing on the horizon for the return of worldwide travel and a renaissance of in-person events.
People are certainly growing more comfortable with the idea of socializing in-person; a survey by Morning Consult has found that 58% of US adults are now happy to meet in real life (IRL), reaching pre-Omicron levels and up from 25% in January 2021.
This shift impacts the working world, too; some 96% of global business travellers are ready to restart work-related sojourns to maintain and develop professional connections. IRL events and networking opportunities will be a lifeline for distributed and digitally nomadic workers who've suffered from a lack of in-person interaction; human beings are, after all, social creatures.
T-Hub Bali akan segera di buka! Siapa yang udah gak sabar untuk dateng dan merasakan keseruan disana?
— Tokocrypto (@Tokocrypto) January 14, 2022
“We can't deny the fact that people still long for that sense of real community—people gathering where they drink, hang out, and sometimes just talk,” Pang Xue Kai, CEO and co-founder of Indonesian cryptocurrency exchange Tokocrypto, told Decrypt.
Responding to that need, the exchange has created T-Hub, an IRL space that provides Bali's crypto community with a combination of sanctuary, clubhouse and learning center. Opened in January 2022, T-Hub features conference rooms and co-working areas to help nurture crypto literacy. Food and drink outlets and spaces for socialization enable visitors to participate in an in-person crypto community, in which crypto fans and enthusiasts can share in a sense of belonging
The idea for T-Hub formed organically; “Pre-pandemic there were always people coming into our Jakarta office, every single day,” Kai told Decrypt. “At first, we thought they must be having problems with their apps—but actually a lot of these people were coming in to ask crypto questions or find out whether we held community events.”
Bali provided the perfect setting for the T-Hub, Kai explained, since Tokocrypto users in the market exploded from 900 in 2020 to 28,000 last year. “It's like a crypto corridor here; Jakarta is basically the business hub and Bali functions more as a community centre,” he said.
Crypto's experience economy
T-Hub is tapping into the tech industry's resurgent experience economy, a trend that's on the rise after two years of pandemic-provoked hiatus. In June 2021, Google launched its first-ever brick-and-mortar store, while the typically decentralized crypto sector has witnessed the rise of walk-in crypto exchanges, mass attendance at Bitcoin conferences and the impending launch of NFT-ticketed social clubs.
Like any good community center, Tokocrypto's T-Hub hosts events ranging from simple technical trading workshops to more creative experiences, such as masterclasses from local NFT artists like Raka Jana. The aim is to provide real, tangible tools to help the wider community engage with crypto, and tap into the universal accessibility and potential of the crypto economy. Exemplifying its democratic approach, Tokocrypto invited 22-year-old student and NFT artist Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali, who recently made over $1m selling his NFT selfies, to T-Hub's launch event.
Tokocrypto also plans to bridge the gap between the online and offline experience, with plans to integrate Tokocrypto’s Toko Token (TKO) token in the form of a loyalty points system. “Crypto has an image of being magic money that people just find on the Internet, but having an offline community space like the T-Hub can potentially help people realise that blockchain and crypto have real-world applications,” said Kai.
Beyond its events, Tokocrypto sees the potential for T-Hub to enable new, nurturing relationships within the crypto market. Ultimately the aim is to provide a physical place for traders, DeFi farmers, investors and platform builders to gain contacts and potential collaborators, facilitating the growth and expansion of connections in the crypto network. “We want to gather talents, connect founders and engineers and help build new blockchain start-ups that address real-world problems we are currently facing in Indonesia," Kai told Decrypt. "We want to nurture a blockchain ecosystem for Indonesia and beyond, that is the ultimate dream.”
The company has the tools to do just that. T-Hub is the latest addition to an already thriving Toko-ecosystem that includes Tokocrypto’s exchange, NFT marketplace Tokomall and blockchain start-up incubator Tokolaunchpad—all of which are powered by the TKO token. Moving forward, the company also plans to add a talent-finding and educational enterprise, to help upskill Indonesian citizens interested in entering the crypto market. This is just the beginning—Tokocrypto plans to open more T-Hubs in Indonesian cities before expanding further afield.
Some 66% of Indonesians remain unbanked, a challenge which Tokocrypto aims to address via innovative crypto projects and its suite of DeFi tools, built with the aim of securing financial empowerment through promoting of financial inclusivity.
In Kai's words, “We want to make sure that Tokocrypto plays a part in laying out the foundation for cryptocurrency to grow in a healthy way, that empowers people.”
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