Blockchain in Korea — What To Expect in 2019 and Beyond

Expectations for blockchain in 2019

Blockchain enjoyed massive hype in 2018 all over the globe, partly due to the surge in cryptocurrency prices like Bitcoin and other Altcoins. Reaching a high of $15,000 last year and being crushed by the bear market in the last quarter of 2018, experts are predicting a high of bitcoin to be at $20,000 by 2020.

Korea, on the other hand, had its share of the blockchain frenzy due to its fast adoption of emerging technologies. Even though major exchanges suffered hacks, and ICOs remain banned, that did not stop traders and investors from exploiting the potentials of blockchain technology.

The popularity of blockchain grew outlandishly in Korea with more calls for mass adoption in industries like trade, finance, logistics, IP rights, health, and medicine— while the calls for regulation from Government quarters were trumpeted loud by stakeholders.

The highlight of the blockchain year in Korea was the induction of Korea Blockchain Week — a week that was filled with diverse blockchain activities, networking events, investors forums, meetup, knowledge workshops and climaxing it with the biggest summit in Asia; Beyond Blocks Summit Seoul(that was attended by over 2,200 blockchain enthusiasts across the globe).

Indeed, it’s been a progressive period for Korea and Asia blockchain ecosystem, in the year under review. Prospects are very high for 2019, despite all the major setbacks we may have experienced in 2018.

Let’s look at some of the blockchain and cryptocurrency trends to expect in 2019 and beyond.

  1. Government Regulation — the government ban on ICO pushed many projects overseas. The uncertainty still remains if the government will heed to the pressures of industry experts and stakeholders (like Korea Blockchain Enterprise Promotion Association) in enacting the right legislation to regulate cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The Governor of Jeju Province is making a concrete recommendation to the National Assembly and Central government to turn the region into a special blockchain zone. This move will allow the region to run ICOs and introduce blockchain into the administration of services like traffic management, VAT refunds for foreign tourists among others. Cities like Gwangju wants to become the Crypto-valley district, but all these cannot be achieved without the regulatory mechanisms in place.
    What will be the cost for the local industry, due to the unavailability of a clear legislative policy for Korea crypto and blockchain market?
  2. More Conglomerates likely to adopt blockchain — Recently, SK Telecom, Korea’s largest wireless telecommunications network announced it will be adopting blockchain for subscriptions, payments, and real-name authentication. It also hinted on launching a token exchange hub for startups. This is in addition to similar adoptions from conglomerates like Kakao Ground X (Blockchain Lab), Line’s LINK Chain (blockchain network), Samsung’s Nexledger and Nexon’s share acquisition in KORBIT. Will 2019 see other big companies following suit?
  3. Trading Volume to increase — Bithumb is presently the largest crypto exchange and trading platform by volume for bitcoin and ether. Recording trade volume of over 250 billion won daily, it joins other giants like UpBit and Korbit to place Korea as the third country with high trading volume after the USA and Japan. This trend is likely to increase with these exchanges listing more altcoins on their platforms.
  4. Investment in Blockchain technology— Korea definitely wants to be at the forefront of the blockchain revolution, looking into 2019 and beyond. It wants to sit ahead of other Asian countries. Seoul City government announced a blockchain industry plan that will be implemented from 2019–2023. It is devoting 123.3 billion won to build a blockchain complex in the East and West sides of Seoul. The complex will inhabit 200 blockchain companies as well as build talents for the sector. The move is intended to foster innovation in the emerging technology and position Korea in the global technology competitiveness radar. This will be essential for early-stage ideas to start their blockchain companies in Seoul and promote the private sector.
  5. Blockchain-As-A-Service (BAAS)for Entreprises — Blockchain technology will be deployed in different enterprises such as food supply chain and auditing industry, online voting, shipping management, real estate, and digital documentation. Samsung’s blockchain arm, Nexledger won the Seoul city government order to apply blockchain to all of its administrative duties by 2022. This blockchain adoption will help increase the efficient delivery of services in public transportation, public safety, and social security. 
    More blockchain use-cases of will experiment and MVPs of projects will be released, judging from the roadmap of various ICO projects.

What are your expectations for the blockchain industry in 2019?

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