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A commemorative ring backed by NFT (non-fungible tokens) and authorised by NBA team the Golden State Warriors, on display at the flagship shop in Causeway Bay. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Hong Kong cryptocurrency start-up to display Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship rings worth US$700,000 to promote non-fungible tokens

  • paid US$700,000 for six rings, linked to NFTs, celebrating the titles won by the San Francisco-based basketball team
  • The NBA rings will be displayed at its flagship store in Causeway Bay, as it seeks to push the concept of NFT to the wider public
Ever since a digital clip of the Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James dunking the ball sold for a whopping US$200,000 in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT) earlier this year, a Hong Kong cryptocurrency start-up has seen the potential to broaden the appeal of this new form of digital asset beyond basketball fans.

In an effort to promote the concept of NFT to the general public, will soon be displaying six unique rings – in both digital and physical form – commemorating the six NBA championships won by the Golden State Warriors. The cryptocurrency platform bid an eye-watering US$700,000 for the NFT denoting ownership of the prized memorabilia from the San Francisco-based basketball team.

By showcasing the collection in its 10,000 square-foot flagship store in Causeway Bay when it arrives next month, hopes to popularise NFT among Hong Kong consumers, according to founder Louis Li.

“We want to be a collector of NFT, as we see them as a great medium for introducing digital assets to the general public,” said Li during an interview at the firm’s shop, which also houses seven bitcoin automatic telling machines (ATMs). “The trend of crypto assets getting bought and sold on main streets is continuing.”

The NFT is a digital certificate of ownership stored on the blockchain. It also records the bidding and trading history of the rings, and details of the design that makes them one of a kind, and non-fungible, meaning they cannot be exchanged for one another. Both the NFT and the rings, scheduled to be shipped to Hong Kong in June, are authorised by the Golden State Warriors.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates after scoring against the Phoenix Suns during the third quarter at the Chase Center. Photo: USA TODAY Sports

The owner can sell them on by using a private key tied to a crypto wallet on the blockchain.

The jury is still out as to whether NFTs are yet another speculative bubble or a serious business. Their profile was lifted when an NFT linked to a digital file of the artwork of Mike Winkelmann, a digital artist better known as Beeple, fetched a record US$69 million at a Christies online auction in March.
“In some cases, the digital certificate represented by the NFT could be seen as more valuable than the artwork and collectible themselves,” said Olivier Marian, co-founder of Arteïa, a Swiss start-up that specialises in creating digital CV for artists to prove the provenance of their work.

This is because the new buyer should be able to verify who the owner of the NFT is if he does some research on the ledger. The blockchain keeps an immutable record of ownership and this, in turn, helps support the value of the NFT itself, Marian said.

NFT aside, is operating 40 bitcoin ATMs in Hong Kong, the bulk of which are in third-party store fronts such as launderettes. It aims to expand this network to 100 by the end of this year.

ATM machines provide an easy way for the public to trade bitcoin, or transfer cryptocurrencies to other users. The machines can swap bitcoin for fiat money, or vice versa.

Hong Kong’s digital assets industry will soon be subject to licensing requirements that will forbid cryptocurrency exchanges from servicing retail investors. In a consultation concluded last Friday, the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau proposed widening the scope of the city’s anti-money-laundering and counterterrorist financing ordinance to include digital exchanges. This would subject them to licensing by the Securities and Futures Commission.

The bureau will move its proposal to the city’s legislature, it said in its consultation conclusion on Friday.

The government hinted in the consultation paper at the prospect of more regulation for cryptocurrency ATMs, although it did not indicate an immediate plan to regulate them.

NFT was not within the scope of the consultation, which ended in January this year.

“But when NFT develops to a point whereby a lot of people use them as collateral to get dollar financing, then I would not be surprised if it attracted more regulatory scrutiny,” said Li.