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Animoca Brands Eyes Middle East While Founder Slams Blur

Siu said the Middle East's emerging markets offer VC opportunities, given the backdrop of crypto-friendly regulations, gaming culture and young population in the region.

Yat Siu, Chairman, Animoca

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Animoca Brands is looking at Middle East for new investments, whilst its co-founder Yat Siu has gone on the offensive against NFT marketplace Blur.

On Tuesday, Siu told SCMP that Animoca is looking to put "significant investment" into the region, which is valued "in the tens of millions of dollars."

A partnership with Manga Productions, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK Foundation, was also announced by Siu. The deal will see the pair co-create a Web3 project.

Animoca's attention on the Middle East follows Hong Kong chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu's Saudia Arabia and UAE visit last month. Hong Kong had announced plans to become a virtual asset hub aided by regulation.

Read more: Hong Kong's Budget Has Zero Appeal to Foreign Investors

Siu said Lee’s trip “legitimises and validates the relationships between the parties”, resulting in “more official channels we can leverage.”

Last month, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said retail investors will be able to access the two largest crypto tokens, Bitcoin and Ethereum. Retail customers are required to pass a knowledge assessment or else only be offered access after training is provided.

Read more: Hong Kong Proposes Plan for Retail Access to Crypto

The SFC also requires all digital asset trading platforms operating in Hong Kong or actively marketing to Hong Kong-based investors to obtain a license from the SFC.

Blurry royalties

Whilst Animoca sets its sights on the Middle East, Siu has meanwhile been taking aim at NFT marketplace Blur.

During NFT Paris, Siu told The Block that Blur's stance on royalties is "insulting."

Last week, Blur set its royalty fee to 0.5%, triggering competitor OpenSea to temporarily drop its 2.5% to zero.

Read more: OpenSea Offers Zero NFT Fees Following Blur Competition

Siu said creator royalties are important for the health of the Web3 ecosystem.

“The reality is that creating allow lists, or block lists, is the beginning of centralisation — it’s the beginning of creating permissions,” Siu told The Block. “And there’s nothing wrong with thinking about permissions if you are the creator of it.”

He added that rewarding traders instead of creators like Blur does is “kind of insulting," "an infringement" and "also rude.”