[THE INVESTOR] Steemit, a blockchain-based social media platform with more than 1 million users globally, is fast gaining a footing in Korea. In terms of traffic, Korea makes up 9.9 percent, the second largest after the US, its home market, with 22.3 percent.
Considering the dominant language is English, Korean users, many of them posting in Korean, may still be a minority group but they run the largest user community within the site and create their own unique culture.
“Korean users have high-level knowledge and understanding about blockchain. Steemit is also paying keen attention to the Korean market,” Cho Jae-woo, a KAIST researcher and the only Korean of the site’s 21 representatives, called witnesses, who create and verify each new block of transactions.
Korea is also one of the most advanced markets where companies are increasingly adopting Steemit’s blockchain platform, called Steem Media Token, which helps them quickly launch blockchain-based projects without developing their own solutions.
“Corporate adoption is helping spur user awareness about the platform and the idea behind it,” he added.
With big name sites like Facebook and YouTube, users create content but the huge billions of dollars revenue from it goes to the companies, not the creators. Steemit aims to change this “unfair” practice, offering incentives, the Steem Token, directly to all its users who post the content or comment on it.
The bigger rivals have already started losing their content creators to these decentralized sites and some critics say Steemit could disrupt Facebook someday.
“It would be impossible for Steemit to beat Facebook. There is no need to do so. We have a different target audience,” Cho said. He also downplayed the possibility of Facebook adopting this kind of reward system for users, citing the possible opposition from its shareholders.
Cho became a witness back in 2016. There is no official term for the title that is decided on their involvement with Steemit and mining track record.
“Based on the token incentives I receive, I earn about 8 million won (US$7,149.24) every month as a witness. It’s huge but I have to spend almost 5 million won to maintain my computing power. I rarely trade the tokens I own at exchanges,” he added.
“But the biggest incentive for me is the decentralized nature of blockchain and Steemit. It’s just fun.”
Following his first visit to Korea in May, Steemit CEO Ned Scott plans to visit Jeju Island next month to participate in the Upbit Developer Conference, the first industry gathering hosted by the nation’s largest crypto exchange Upbit.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)