Astar is a multi-chain blockchain network powering the next evolution of decentralised applications, and is the most widely recognised blockchain in Japan. The team wants to bring blockchain platforms and web2 Enterprises together, providing a streamlined onboarding process for new users. Astar must secure significant funding, sponsors, and partnerships to slowly build adoption and real-world utility for this ambition to succeed.
The project got off to a hot start, with several big players in the Web3 scene investing early in Astar’s venture. Their first funding round was led by Binance Labs, the industry’s biggest launchpad. They ultimately raised $34 million USD between 2021 and 2022, with key investors including Binance Labs, Fenbushi Capital, Crypto.com Capital and Polychain Capital.
Astar VC investors. Source Cryptorank
Astar x Japanese government
Although domiciled in Singapore, Astar is led by Japanese entrepreneur Sota Watanabe. Through his experience working part-time with the Japanese government as a blockchain advisor, he has managed to build several contacts and develop a relationship with the governing party. This has proven fruitful in the widespread adoption of blockchain technology in Japan, which has seen a renaissance over the past few years.
Astar’s Japan Lab is one of the most important collaborations between the two parties. Astar’s research and development sector is dedicated to providing blockchain-related solutions to the Japanese government. This includes proposing new Web3 and NFT-based use cases, incubating exciting new blockchain projects and re-building Japan’s reputation as a leader in the technology space.
As part of its Web3 growth, Japan is strongly considering introducing a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). This is like a stablecoin issued and managed exclusively by the government. To discuss the merits of this proposal, the official Bank of Japan held a forum where they invited several high-ranking government officials alongside prominent Web3 experts. Sota Watanabe was invited to contribute and will continue to play a part in advising the Japanese government on blockchain matters going forward.
Beyond securing a promising relationship with the Japanese government, Astar has worked hard behind the scenes to find partnerships in the commercial sector too.
In January 2023, the world’s second-largest automobile manufacturer – Toyota – sponsored a major web3 hackathon hosted on Astar Network. The goal was for developers to build a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) tool exclusively for Toyota’s business. Ultimately, the company wanted to test whether Astar’s blockchain tech could help streamline management decisions across their wide range of offices and high-ranking executives. Although web3-integrated cars are a relatively new concept, Toyota’s interest in Astar Network suggests an appetite for future experimentation and collaborations between the two industries.
Japan’s tech giant Sony is another massive company wetting their feet in the potential of blockchain technology. In February 2023, they teamed up with Astar to form an incubation program that would test the problem-solving ability of NFTs and DAOs within Sony’s organisation (and the tech industry as a whole).
NTT DoCoMo, one of Japan’s biggest telecom providers, formed a strategic partnership with Astar Foundation in mid-2023. The collaboration’s goal is simple – to provide a safe, accessible and sustainable ecosystem for web3 growth. They plan to achieve this by incentivising talented individuals to contribute to the DeFi industry through sponsorships, initiatives and skill development programs. Developers from NTT DoCoMo and the Astar Foundation will also work together on creating tools to reduce fraud and distrust among the web3 community.
Kyushu Railway Company
Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) is another of Astar’s most impressive partnerships. The two companies banded together in May 2023, with the interrail company servicing over 331 million people annually. JR Kyushu is using the Astar Network to host NFTs, largely due to the blockchain’s interoperability and excellent scalability. While NFTs are traditionally considered digital art, the railway business intends to marry NFTs with their transport services – think tickets, travel memorabilia and first-class perks.