Episode 61 of the Public Key podcast is here! Our APAC-focused episodes continue as we talk about the expansion of Layer 1 Blockchain, Tezos, with the Head of Marketing at Tezos APAC, Jivan Tulsiani. This episode covers big brand partnerships, the future of gaming, DeFi and NFTs in Asia, and the journey to 1 million transactions per second.
Public Key Episode 61 preview: Tezos may be the preferred blockchain for grassroots adoption in Asia
Our APAC focused episodes continue as Ian Andrews discusses the factors impacting the massive grassroots adoption of crypto and DeFi in Asia with Jivan Tulsiani (Head of Marketing, Tezos APAC).
Jivan talks about the popularity of Tezos’ layer one proof of stake blockchain in the APAC region and how artists, developers, and founders are attracted to the affordable and Tezos community-driven entry point for all creators and the ability to leverage Tezos’ self-amending mechanism.
Jivan talks about the big brand partnerships including Manchester CF and Mclaren. He describes Tezos’ incubator focus on blockchain gaming, DeFi solutions, and the NFT ecosystem while highlighting how to optimize their blockchain to reach the million transaction per second goal.
Quote of the episode
“We’re really excited about the potential for Tezos to not only be a platform for creating NFTs and other digital assets but also for building decentralized applications that can solve real-world problems.” – Jivan Tulsiani (Head of Marketing, Tezos APAC)
Minute-by-minute episode breakdown
- (2:35) – Pioneering a Layer 1, Proof of Stake blockchain, and affordable grassroots entry point into the blockchain.
- (5:02) – Jivan’s background and how he went from the military to ed tech, then into the world of crypto, and ultimately working at Tezos.
- (8:45) – Tezos’ self-amending feature and how this type of governance works in practice.
- (11:08) – APAC region’s high level of grassroots crypto adoption and driving factors.
- (14:45) – Manchester United, McLaren, and other big brands entering web3 and crypto through Tezos blockchain.
- (16:12) – Tezos’ focus on NFTs, gaming and DeFi solutions, and unique use cases in Asia.
- (17:05) – Mumbai upgrade and the focus on a million transactions per second, enabling global payment processing networks on-chain.
- (19:15) – Exciting startups and projects that are emerging out of the APAC region.
- (21:25) – Tezos’ incubator program and its benefits for blockchain entrepreneurs and crypto investors.
Check out more resources provided by Chainalysis that perfectly complement this episode of the Public Key.
- Website: Tezos APAC: A web3 ecosystem builder empowering founders, creators, and developers
- Announcement: The Web3 industry’s first-ever report investigating the impact of incubators in Asia
- Article: TZ APAC and DSH Manila: Empowering Filipino Artists Together
- Announcement: TZ APAC Tezos Incubator Demo Day – 5 JULY 2023, 5-9PM (Singapore)
- Chainalysis On-Demand: Chainalysis Links Amsterdam 2023 On-Demand
- LinkedIn Post: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM)
- YouTube: Chainalysis YouTube page
- Twitter: Chainalysis Twitter: Building trust in blockchain
- TikTok: Building trust in blockchains among people, businesses, and governments.
- Telegram: Chainalysis on Telegram
Speakers on today’s episode
- Ian Andrews * Host * (Chief Marketing Officer, Chainalysis)
- Jivan Tulsiani (Head of Marketing, Tezos APAC)
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Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Public Key. This is your host, Ian Andrews. Today I’m joined by Jivan Tulsiani, head of marketing for Tezos APAC. Welcome to the show.
Thank you very much. It’s great to be here. I’ve been a big fan.
Well, I love hearing that. Having fans on the show warms my heart. I always jokingly believe that nobody actually listens to this besides me and Steven, but … Hey, I think probably everybody listening to this has heard of Tezos. Tazos or Tezos?
It’s quite interchangeable, to be honest. Some say Tazos, some Tezos. Tezos rolls much quicker off my lips, so that’s what I usually say.
Tezos, all right. So launched in 2017, or at least that’s when the ICO happened, catch us up. What’s been happening over the last few years, particularly the more recent history? I know a lot of technical engineering work has gone into the blockchain, but I’m kind of curious where does it fit in the overall cryptocurrency ecosystem? How are people using it? Maybe just a high level overview to get us all started.
Absolutely. You can call Tezos a pioneering layer one proof of state blockchain. It was one of the first, I would say, and actually in terms of what Tezos is associated with, it’s a innovative and affordable and community driven entry point for a lot of people who want get into blockchain. Let me give you an example. Last year when the border started to open up here in Southeast Asia, I made my first trip to Indonesia after a couple of years and just hanging out in the NFT artist community in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. I was meeting people in person for the first time, so I asked this music producer called Sekud Beat they create music on Tezos, and I ask him, I was like, “What’s the sentiment on the ground? Like?” and he said, “Jivan, you know what? Over the past two years, especially in 2021, Tezos became the … it was opening door for artists looking to create NFTs, looking to create art on the blockchain.”
Why? Because back then, obviously Ethereum was still … it operated in a proof of work model, so Tezos was the more affordable option. For every community, every sub-community in the arts domain, there will be a lot of people in the community. In the photography community it would be very vibrant, people minting photos on Tezos. Music, very strong community. I would say that it’s one of the best entry points you can have into the blockchain, if I can summarize it well.
This is a really interesting point. I’m a big fan of these grassroots adoption stories. So when you say … Sorry, the artist that you mentioned there, what was his name again?
Sekud Beat. His name is Imam, so he and his friends, they make up school bead. S-E-K-U-D-B-E-A-T. They create music on object.com.
Awesome. We’ll link to this in the show notes, so everybody can go check this out. But when you say he’s creating music on the chain, what does that actually mean practically? Is that an NFT that links out to a song, or is it something else entirely?
It’s the song proper.
The song is now stored on the blockchain, it’s transactable, I can buy it, I can send it to somebody else?
Exactly, exactly. Spot on.
They’re also really innovative. They created one for the Indonesia independence. They create a special song that’s steeped in the history of Indonesia as well. You can buy it and very easy.
I think most artists today, I hear them like, “Oh yeah, I have a SoundCloud”, maybe “I’m in Spotify.” It’s all streaming platforms. For an artist, this group that you just mentioned, what’s the advantage for them being on Tezos?
I would say number one, it’s very affordable and it’s been affordable since the start. Obviously after the merge, Ethereum is operating a proof of stake at the moment. But Tezos was doing this from day one. Because of debt as well, there’s been a very strong organic community, I would say, Ian. When you create any piece of art on Tezos, there are very strong communities that you can bounce ideas off. They are very strong communities that you can be like, “Hey, get me a shout-out,” or collaboration. There’s a lot of collaboration that happens between artists, not only in the same country, but also throughout the region. I would say that it’s really cool. It’s really, really cool. It’s like the cool blockchain where people who want to innovate, people who want to try something new, people who want to have a strong community behind them, Tezos is the place to be.
Oh, that’s fascinating. I’m curious, maybe rewinding a little bit, how did you get into this? You’ve been in a variety of marketing roles earlier in your career. I was doing a little LinkedIn stalking before the interview. Tell us about your story, how you found yourself in the world of crypto and ultimately working at Tezos.
Basically I have had experience in the military. I’ve had experience in sports, in deep tech, and then before I joined the Tezos ecosystem, I was at an edutech startup called Tiger Hall for two and a half years. Basically I want to get involved in all the hottest and the most promising areas. In 2017, I worked a lot with AI and robotics. This was the time where the conversations, there were very strong conversations of like, “Oh no, robots are going to take my jobs,” and AI was picking up pace as well. I know right now it’s on a different level because of ChatGPT, but back then AI and data analytics, these topics were big on people’s mind as well. So I wanted to be at forefront. I wanted to be able to be there to shift mindsets and tell people, “Here, robots are not here to take a jobs. Robots are here to complement things.”
I got introduced to blockchain by my brother. He’s a crypto native. I’m actually not a crypto native, to be very honest with you. He’s a crypto native. As a family, we got our first MAYC, and he really brought us into the world of blockchain. He explained it really, really well to me. The beautiful thing is that he’s also got my dad into NFTs and stuff like that.
Then I obviously did more research and I felt that this was … obviously the market was much more vibrant. This was in 2021. I started early 2022, so conversation started at the last quarter of 2021 and did a lot of research to see the benefits of blockchain. Then I also saw that crypto, there was a lot of mindset shift that needed to happen because the new cycle kept being dominated by price changes and market shifts and stuff like that like. Inside my circle of family, I saw that some people still found it difficult to understand what NFTs are and stuff like that, so I thought that coming in in marketing for DCA packet allowed me to be at the forefront of a layer one proof of stake blockchain, and it can also put me in a position to be able to shift mindsets and convince people of the benefits of blockchain.
Yeah, that’s neat. As I was researching the episode a little bit, diving into what sets Tezos apart from other layer ones that are out there, the one that really stood out to me is this concept of self amending. I have to admit, I think I kind of get it at a surface level, like, oh yeah, you can upgrade without having to create these forks that you might lose half your validators like we’ve seen in other blockchains over the years. How does that actually work in practice? You guys just went through a pretty big upgrade recently with the Mumbai upgrade, which I think ultimately unlocks much higher transaction processing speed. How does that work without centralized control? Can you maybe walk us through what this self amending trick actually is?
Exactly. I mean, it’s really at the core of how the Tezos platform was built. I mean, it was built with mechanisms that basically kind of ensures that there’s active community governments and participation. You spoke about how do you maintain decentralization now? Active community governance and participation, these are key components of Web 3. It’s the essence of Web 3, essentially. What this means is that users can actively participate by evaluating, proposing and approving amendments to Tezos. How this benefits the blockchain basically is that it kind of empowers the type of collaborative innovation that Tezos is starting to get … that has established as being on the bleeding edge of technology.
It’s actually put Tezos at the forefront of the whole blockchain ecosystem because if you look at the kind of brands that are building on Tezos that have partnered with Tezos, for example, that’s a very good example, I would say. Definitely the governance and participation, getting active community governance, that’s very, very important.
It’s interesting when we at Chainalysis, every year we publish this crypto adoption index, which tries to look at grassroots adoption and interestingly, seven out of the top 10 countries are in the APAC region, including Vietnam, Philippines, and China. What’s your take? I mean, you’re on the ground in Singapore and I think you get to travel around the region quite a bit. What’s your take on why is there such an appetite for crypto? What do you think is actually driving that level of adoption?
First and foremost, I would say that it’s grassroots. You are absolutely right. It’s very, very strong. Grassroots adoption is really, really strong. If you look at Indonesia for example, which in the Chainalysis list for example, top 20 based on the 2022 study that your team did. Let’s look at Indonesia now. For example, we run a campaign on the Independence Day for Indonesia last August. The Independence Day of Indonesia is on 17th of August, so we did a campaign to highlight 17 artists from 17 cities on 17 August. Ian, the beautiful thing about this campaign is that the artists were all from … the artist list was not dominated by the main cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, Bali. No. In fact, it was spread across the archipelago.
From the Java Island to the Sumatra Island, it was spread across the archipelago and they were from hill stations, they were from the mountainous areas, they were from the rural areas as well. So basically worldwide, whenever you talk to somebody about Indonesia, they’re like, “Oh, Bali”, but it’s such a vast, beautiful country and you see artists from these places using NFTs. That’s how far it’s gone. That’s how deep NFT adoption is in Indonesia. I would say that that’s something that we see a lot in the Philippines as well, in Thailand as well. Thailand is, correct me if I’m wrong, number two. Vietnam is number one. Thailand is number two. Or is it Philippines?
I think Vietnam was top, Philippines maybe second behind that, but Thailand was up there for sure.
Thailand is top 10 as well. It’s great. That’s what happens on the grassroots level. Then what happens after that is that a lot of business opportunities get created. For example, in TZ APAC we run an incubator program that incubates startups. They go through a three months program where they go through mentorship, they go through workshops, they go through masterclass, and then we see the kind of businesses that have joined our incubator program. A lot of businesses opportunities are being created because of grass root adoption. Now, if you look at Gas Pack for example, one of the businesses that are being incubated in cohort two of the incubator, they are here to make NFT adoption easier. So how can you bridge the artist operating on the grassroots with brands that are wanting to get into Web 3 and wanting to engage the customers?
That’s exactly the same that Hyperglide in Sri Lanka is doing as well. I would say that the grassroots adoption in addition to the spirit of Web 3 entrepreneurship that we are seeing in Asia, and then you couple that with increased interest in investors as well, increased deals, increased number of deals with investors backing these startups as well, it’s a killer combination again.
It’s really interesting to follow. One of the things that got me pretty excited is some of the partnerships that I think your team gets to work on. Some of my favorite things like Formula One with McLaren and Premier League football, like Man United. Before we started taping, you mentioned the Rugby Sevens involvement that you all have. How do you think about your role leading marketing for Tezos and this crossover into all these big brands, how does all that work? What’s your strategy there? Why do those make sense for the chain in terms of the sponsorships that you have in place?
First and foremost, these partnerships were driven by my colleagues in the global offices. My role as head of marketing for TZ APAC is to amplify and to use these partnerships basically to grow our community for adoption of Tezos. I would say that first and foremost, it’s definitely validation because if you look at the crux of sports sponsorships, one of the main features of a sports sponsorship and the reason why brands partners with other brands and why brands invest in sports sponsorships, the most powerful thing is brand association. If you look at some of the names that you just mentioned, McLaren for example, McLaren is a household name in racing. They’ve always been known for the innovation and that’s the same as Tezos as well. There’s a lot of mutual kind of brand messaging I would say. Then you look at Manchester United, the top two most successful football clubs in England, one of the most successful football clubs in the world.
Then you are working with another pioneer in the space, but this time a pioneering layer one proof of stake blockchain in Tezos. It’s great validation because it’s all brand association. You are being associated with these very strong brands and they are also being associated with a strong brand in Tezos. So branding wise, it’s a very good fit I would say. Now, I put on my marketing hat, Ian, as you requested, and I see first and foremost how can we use this? I’m a big sports person. For me, sports is a vehicle for me to shift mindset. Whenever you try to speak about NFTs to non crypto natives, you need some support because when something is new to human beings, the first thing they do is feel uncertain. That’s the thing they do is develop doubts.
When you have their favorite teams or you have their favorite sports being associated with NFTs, then they’re like, “Oh, wait a minute. I love Formula One, I’ve watched Drive to Survive. I know McLaren, I know Lando Norris, I know Oscar Piastri.” You know what? These guys are speaking about NFTs so why don’t we … let’s get involved. Last year during the Singapore Grand Prix, there was a very nice NFT campaign, Asia focused NFT campaign that we did with the McLaren mascot. It was really, really cool and people got to get involved with NFTs and we built a proper story around it. The main thing, Ian, that we wanted to drive was utility.
With that drop, if you mint maybe a couple, you’ll get some benefits and these benefits usually are access that you don’t get usually. Whether it be a Zoom call with team or whether it be tickets to a race. The utility aspect of things is very, very important and it was very nice to help our community, especially the non crypto native folks, to get involved with NFTs that way. It just makes it more interesting. It makes things more engaging and it makes things more interactive, I would say.
You definitely got my interest when you said that there were tickets available if you minted one of these NFTs. I’m in for that. We’ve touched on NFTs a lot. It seems like Tezos is really focused on NFTs, whether that’s music or art or some of these utility NFTs. Is that by design or has that just been where the community interest has been? What’s your take on that?
Tezos, honestly, use cases range from NFTs to gaming to DeFi. In our incubator at the moment we are focusing on three main tracks. We are focusing on NFTs, we are focusing on DeFi, and we are focusing on gaming. Now, there are obviously reasons why, in terms of Tezos, NFTs dominate maybe the news cycle. The reason is because the grassroots adoption that we are seeing with regards to NFTs is growing. It’s growing and what that means is that … you mentioned McLaren, you mentioned Manchester United, but even small and big enterprises in countries in Asia are adopting NFTs because of the grassroots power, the grassroots adoption that we are seeing. For example, if you go to Manila, the Caloocan neighborhood in Manila, there’s 24 barbers. There’s a barbershop that creates NFTs on Tezos and tells it customers that, “Hey, get involved with NFTs with us, we will upgrade your package. We’ll upgrade your package so you can enjoy more services.”
Then you have Harian Kompas, which is the biggest newspaper in Indonesia that created its NFTs in light of its anniversary. It took out the best photos from its archives and minted it on Tezos and people who buy these NFTs, they get free merchandise and they also get to keep a piece of Indonesian history through that. There’s a lot of use cases like that that happen, and then a lot of publicity gets driven through all this, Ian. But I would say that if you go under the TZ APAC content hub, you’ll see a lot of businesses building really cool DAPS, really cool games as well on Tezos. It’s a very wide range of use cases that you can see in Tezos ecosystem for sure in Asia.
Perfect. We’ll link to that in the show notes so people can go check it out. Now, earlier we mentioned the Mumbai upgrade. This looked like a big project. The headline feature was a million transactions per second, which I haven’t benchmarked Ethereum or Bitcoin lately, but it’s a lot more than either of those can do, maybe even combined. I think the comparison statistic that stuck out for me was a million transactions per second would enable you to run all the global payment processing networks on the chain simultaneously. That sounds fantastical to me, I have to admit. I haven’t seen anybody else in the blockchain space actually deliver on this. Talk to us a little bit about what’s been done there. Is this available right now? I think the upgrade completed in March, but there’s still work to get to the million transactions a second if I read correctly, right?
Yeah, but I mean would say that it’s a big step in the right direction because … Mumbai is also introducing smart rollups, which okay is a new layer two scaling solution that’s built directly into the protocol. What these smart rollups also enable … so let’s talk about building. Let’s talk about developers, like what’s in it for them, or enterprises or whoever. Let’s talk about the use case side of things. So smart rollups, they enable DAPS for those who are unsure what DAPS are, it’s decentralized applications and you can benefit from the own dedicated hardware resources if you want to process high amount of transactions like you mentioned. But the beauty is that you can still guarantee the integrity and security of the smart roll up. Because of this approach, that’s how we can work towards the milestone of one million transactions per second in 2023 without sacrificing decentralization, which I told you at the start of our conversation is the ethos of Tezos basically.
Then if you want to dive in and do a little bit deeper, a lot of very exciting technical features, like fully decentralized and open interactive fraud proofs, guarantee roll ups, security and integrity and WASM as well. For those who are not very familiar, web assembly execution environment. This allows for flexible of a wide range of DAPS.
Oh, that’s cool.
Advanced roll up features as well that simplify interactions like broadcasting from layer one to all roll ups, calling layer one smart contract from layer two or transferring assets across the different layers. There’s really a lot of exciting features that are being introduced with Mumbai.
You obviously get to interact with a lot of the communities on the ground all across the APAC region. I’m curious, outside of your own project, what is getting you excited these days? What have you seen out there that’s new and interesting or innovative that you’re really looking forward to maybe coming out this year?
For me what I feel is going to be big is I want things to be … I really respect Web 3 builders or Web 3 entrepreneurs trying to make it easier for people to adopt NFTs. I’m talking about institutions, I’m talking about art fairs. If you’re talking about NFTs, I’m talking about users, the end users like non crypto natives as well. I like what akaSwap is doing. They are a Taiwan based startup that’s basically trying to make things very easy for institutions to engage their customers, engage their fans on all things blockchain. For example, if somebody wants to do NFTs for example, it’s very easy for them to do it in the akaSwap platform. Also, if they want to get involved with a metaverse, there’s akaVerse as well that’s very easy to get in.
I’m very, very excited about akaSwap and the work that they’re doing. Then I would also say that Hyperglide from Sri Lanka is also doing very, very exciting things and some very exciting games are also coming out. There is a game that I really like, it’s incorporating a lot of history. It’s called Tanhaji, T-A-N-H-A-J-I. They are based out of India and Tanhaji is basically a warrior in India, so it’s a good chance to play an exciting game and also get involved and be more aware of the country’s history as well. These are some of the exciting startups that have caught my eye recently.
That game sounds fun. I’d love to play that. We’ll have to link to that in the notes as well. Hey, just one last question to wrap up. I mean, from a perspective of Tezos globally or in the region, what’s coming out this year that we should all be looking forward to?
I would say that our incubator programs are very, very exciting. Cohort one has just started, so let me just recap. Startups, they get incubated, they go through a lot of master classes and workshops to learn directly from leaders. Then what happens, they get attached to a mentor as well to guide them through journey. Then they also, at the end of this whole three months program, they get to do a demo day where we get a lot of VCs in a room and the founders get to pitch their ideas to VCs. We help them with access to VCs and we help them with a lot of insights and stuff like that. Cohort two is happening, cohort three is going to happen later this year, so any entrepreneurs looking to build Web 3 startups or are building a Web 3 startup, even if you’re more mature stage and you want to explore, you want to join the Tezos ecosystem, the very vibrant Tezos ecosystem, this is something that can really, really help you.
Then if there are a lot of investors as well who are listening to the podcast, if you want to explore and improve your deal flow with some really, really exciting startups across gaming, DeFi and NFTs, definitely check out the incubator. I would love to have you guys in the demo day and you guys can meet the founders there directly as well.
Ah, that sounds exciting. I love it. Great place to wrap. Thanks so much for joining us on the podcast. Terrific guest. Looking forward to seeing more of Tezos in the coming year.
Pleasure is mine, Ian.