Visiting Jeju, Aspiring Blockchain Hub
Jeju Island is one of the hottest places in Korea for blockchain. The Jeju Future Strategic Industry Research Association, led by Vice chairperson Kim Hee-hyon of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial Council, recently held its 55th policy discussion forum under the topic of ‘Jeju as Blockchain Hub and Its Potential.’ Representing the company that provided blockchain solutions for the Nowon Local Cryptocurrency project, I participated in the forum to present my take on the future of blockchain from the industry’s standpoint.
There were various opinions about the idea of ‘Jeju as Blockchain Hub,’ pushed by Governor Won Hee-ryong. Concerns and comments from the provincial assembly members and residents on whether this is a reasonable idea were shared. We also discussed whether it is realistic, how we should resolve any legal issues and whether the province is closely cooperating with the central government on this matter. For the provincial assembly members, who represent the will of the residents, the biggest question was whether making Jeju the blockchain hub would help the residents.
This made me think back on the process we went through to apply blockchain technology to Nowon District’s local currency. In fact, the following question is a rite of passage when speaking to most of our clients about blockchain. “Would blockchain be helpful for us?” Team HYCON would ask back:
“What aspect of your current policy or business model do you need improved the most?”
Blockchain is by no means the cure for everything. It may or may not be necessary. But if we force a blockchain solution onto a client when it is unnecessary and end up causing trouble, the business model would not last. That is why Team HYCON checks what issues clients have and whether blockchain could resolve them.
As I was lost in my thoughts for a split second, I was asked to provide some comments. I said the following:
“I acknowledge the concerns you may have regarding frauds and speculative investments. However, those issues have always existed outside the blockchain/cryptocurrency world as well. Frauds and speculation would decrease instead if we establish regulations, impose heavy punishments and confiscate any illegal profits. The blockchain/cryptocurrency industry is expanding rapidly worldwide, and this is an opportunity for Jeju that needs new growth engines other than tourism, as this could result in an influx of Korean and overseas startups into the island.
A blockchain-based local currency for Jeju will facilitate the circulation of local budget within the island. Also, if Jeju becomes a special zone that allows ICOs, Korean startups will be able to set up shops in Jeju instead of having to pay a large sum to launch an ICO overseas. It will also help China-based ICO projects and crypto entrepreneurs settle down on the island. As a result, Jeju will be able to attract investment and reap the benefits of fund circulation.
I came across the news that a big cryptocurrency exchange in Korea recently decided to open an exchange in Singapore. The daily trading volume at the exchange reached KRW 3 trillion (USD 2.7 billion) as of April and its profits are estimated at KRW 1 billion (USD 900,000) per day. It would be a shame to let a non-blockchain/cryptocurrency company like this to move abroad.”
Which path do you think Jeju will choose? 😉