[THE INVESTOR] Despite the latest boom and bust in Korea’s cryptocurrency market, industry experts believe the tech-savvy nation is still the hotbed for testing and developing blockchain projects, and to advertise initial coin offerings.
“We don’t live in a single country, but within a global network. This means, if a project has great value, it can raise capital from all over the world,” Simon Kim, CEO and founding partner of Hashed, Korean blockchain project accelerator and investor, said in his keynote address at the Beyond Blocks Summit conference on July 17.
“Seoul is the most attractive place as a test bed for decentralized projects. In Korea, firms with blockchain protocols can find decentralized apps with ‘real-world usage’ to introduce on their platforms, while Dapps can promote its products and services to local users that have already learned the value of digital assets. Meanwhile, investors can find great decentralized projects here.”
Kim cited great IT infrastructure and high smartphone penetration rate, as well as people familiar with paying for digital contents, as reasons why blockchain industry thrived in Korea in the early days. With 40 percent of the country’s population living in Seoul, the new technology trend can spread fast centering around the capital city, he added.
Hashed founder and CEO Simon Kim delivers keynote speech at the Beyond Blocks Summit conference on July 17.
“When new digital technologies and trends emerge, Korea is one of the first countries to adopt them,” he said. “More than 50 percent of white-collar workers in Korea had observed cryptocurrencies soar and crash from early 2017. Koreans, through experience, know which blockchain project is valuable. They have a serious desire to discover good projects.”
As for the controversial ICOs, Kim stressed no actual law to ban coin fundraising has taken effect yet, saying major tech firms continue to carry out their blockchain projects. They are messenger giant Kakao’s new blockchain subsidiary Ground X, e-commerce Ticket Monster’s Terra project, and video streaming provider Watcha’s Contents Protocol, among others.
Experts gathered at the conference were optimistic that the Korean government will relax regulations on cryptocurrencies and ICOs soon, shifting away from its hard stance when speculation peaked last year.
“I think sensible regulations will come out sometime this year,” said Samuel Yim, attorney at Kim & Chang, during a panel discussion on “Governance and ICO’s – the balance between regulations and disruption.”
“I don’t think it will be as laissez faire as Singapore, nor will it would be regulated like the US or Japan. But I think it would be somewhere in between. The Korean government does recognize blockchain technology related to cryptocurrencies is a very important element of the initiative of the fourth industry revolution.”
Joshua Ho, partner at QCP Capital, Singapore-based cryptocurrency trading firm, said blockchain needs more use cases in the real world for legislators inclined to make better rules.
“Legislators aren’t going to understand, comprehend or listen, because people aren’t building things that others will use,” he said, adding the blockchain market is not near a massive adoption stage. “When people say (blockchain) is useful, and I want it. … That’s when it starts to change.”
Michael Novogratz, founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital Capital Management
“The regulator’s job, whether it’s in Korea, Japan or the US, it’s always the same thing: to protect the little man,” Michael Novogratz, billionaire and founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital Capital Management, told the press at the event. “Because cryptocurrencies happened so fast, none of the regulators were prepared. I think they are now going through the education process, certainly in the US, Japan and here, where they are understanding and setting the new, good rule that allows the community to go forward.”
More than 2,000 blockchain experts, developers and investors gathered at the two-day Beyond Blocks Summit conference that kicked off at Shilla Hotel today. The Investor is an official media sponsor for the event.
By Ahn Sung-mi and Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org) (email@example.com)