Bloomberg — A pair of scions from Singapore’s wealthiest families are teaming up to create a private NFT-based social networking app, becoming the latest among the well-heeled to jump aboard an intensifying crypto craze.
Kiat Lim, the 28-year-old son of reclusive financier Peter Lim, and Elroy Cheo, of the family behind edible oil business Mewah International Inc., have founded ARC to create the exclusive community. The pair envision an online club where membership is open to anyone holding the startup’s non-fungible tokens, from entrepreneurs to social media influencers.
Lim and Cheo, 37, are both crypto-enthusiasts with famous socialite sisters: Lim’s sibling Kim has some 319,000 Instagram followers, while Cheo’s Arissa has about 355,000. They join a rush globally to cash in on the growing crypto-mania that’s supercharging digital coin prices and startup valuations. That shift quickened in 2021 as wealthy investors who once scorned digital tokens realized they couldn’t bear to miss out on the potential for big gains.
ARC plans to first build an app-based community, bringing together individuals from Taipei to South Korea and Australia to network, collaborate on projects and share stories. After that, it plans to host exclusive member events, before eventually creating an ARC metaverse -- a sprawling online virtual community -- with a gaming element. The company plans to charge an annual subscription fee for those who eschew their NFTs.
“We are a networking ecosystem that encompasses online and offline experiences, and pushing online boundaries,” Lim said in an interview in Singapore.
ARC will rigorously authenticate its members to ensure users are who they say they are. The founders have been quietly working on their startup since prior to Covid-19, prioritizing referrals for membership similar to traditional clubs. The app is currently limited to iPhones though an Android version is in the testing phase.
The founders said they chose the name partly to express their ambition to bridge real and virtual worlds and the transition to Web3 -- a still-ambiguous term for blockchain-based, decentralized systems envisioned as replacing the internet as we know it.
“We want to create a community that Asia has never seen before,” said Cheo. “We see the world change a lot, especially after Covid. People in this target segment now all want a sense of belonging.”