SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - A pair of scions from Singapore's wealthiest families are teaming up to create a private social networking app based on non-fungible tokens (NFTs), becoming the latest among the well-heeled to jump aboard an intensifying crypto craze.
Mr Kiat Lim, the 28-year-old son of reclusive financier Peter Lim, and 37-year-old Elroy Cheo of the family behind edible oil business Mewah International have founded ARC to create the exclusive community.
The pair envision an online club where membership is open to anyone holding the start-up's NFTs, from entrepreneurs to social media influencers.
Mr Kiat Lim and Mr Cheo are both crypto-enthusiasts with famous socialite sisters: Mr Lim's sibling Kim has some 319,000 Instagram followers, while Mr Cheo's sister Arissa has about 355,000.
They join a rush globally to cash in on the growing crypto-mania that is supercharging digital coin prices and start-up valuations. That shift quickened in 2021 as wealthy investors who once scorned digital tokens realised they could not 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," Mr Kiat 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 start-up since prior to Covid-19, prioritising referrals for membership similar to traditional clubs. The app is currently limited to iPhones, with an Android version 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, decentralised systems envisioned as replacing the Internet as we know it.
"We want to create a community that Asia has never seen before," said Mr Cheo. "We see the world (changing) a lot, especially after Covid-19. People in this target segment now all want a sense of belonging."