South Korea’s Got Blockchain in its Seoul
In August, South Korea has begun establishing itself as a global leader in blockchain acquisition and application.
Competition Breeds Innovation
The South Korean technology giants Samsung and LG have been mainstays in the consumer electronics market for years often going head to head with Apple and GE for global market share. In early 2018 Seoul even committed itself to a $2 billion investment in artificial intelligence (AI) to compete with China and the United States. Given the rise in interest in blockchain technology, South Korea has made sure to stay ahead of the curve in fintech as well.
The island country also hosts Upbit and Bithumbwhich are the listed among the top 25 exchanges globally and boast a trading volume of over $200 million. South Korea has run into trouble with both crypto fraud and hacks, however, in the past leading it to enact a temporary ban on initial coin offerings (ICO). Though the country remains wary of cryptocurrencies, the underlying blockchain technology is worthy of investment for Seoul.
The last year saw a wide disparity in the regulation, adoption, and utilization of blockchain technology on a global scale. While countries like Gibraltar, the Marshall Islands, and Malta are moving forward full steam. Conversely, places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Nepal have outlawed them entirely.
Japan and China have already emerged as major players in the field, which has prompted South Korea to set aside its reservations and engage with the technology in real-world applications.
Full Steam Ahead: Adoption and Application
With the lifting of the ban on ICOs, bitcoin has also become a legal remittance tool in the country. Furthermore, new policies governing blockchain technologies and decentralized applications (dApps) are beginning to carve a legislative framework out of the space.
Crypto exchanges are now being reclassified as financial institutions which allows them to be regulated under federal South Korean financial laws. This is what normalization of the blockchain space looks like in South Korea, and it is a process that appears only to be moving forward.
Along with having a friendly legislative environment, the country also plays host to a thriving crypto community. This year Seoul is set to welcome a series of blockchain events drawing the international and domestic blockchain community together. Unlike in the United States, open ledger technology is quite familiar to South Koreans with almost half of the workforce investing in cryptocurrencies.
More to the point, 20 percent of global trading in cryptocurrencies originates in South Korea. All of this makes the Asian country a rising Mecca in the decentralized community.
The country’s financial regulatory body recently announced that it would also be constructing a new bureau called the Financial Innovation Bureau. This organization will focus on creating policy around emerging commercial technologies.
The Ministry of Science announced that it would be investing $9 million to back blockchain pilot projects in the public sector. This includes everything from customs clearance, logistics, real estate, and online voting. With the ICO ban now lifted the private sphere is beginning to explore new blockchain potentialities for the coming years.