Home to some of the world’s vibrant cryptocurrency exchanges; touted as the most prominent exchange market for Ether; and the third largest bitcoin trading market after Japan and the United States. These are just a few of the cryptocurrency and blockchain accolades South Korea has won for itself. Now, the country is taking it to the next level by implementing a new blockchain invention through Samsung, the South Korean transnational conglomerate, the world’s seventh most valuable company, and second largest tech firm.
Dubbed BankSign, the blockchain platform built under Samsung SDS Co. will allow citizens to complete transactions between different banks efficiently. The project, which was unveiled in June by the Korea Federation of Banks (KFB), seeks to enhance secure verification in online and mobile banking. It will also allow users to use a single bank’s verification and certification to conduct multiple transactions across different banks.
This initiative is an addition to Samsung’s blockchain division, which kicked off in 2015, and it built a business-focused platform called Nexledger in 2017. BankSign, therefore, serves as a banking solution offered by Samsung’s blockchain wings to banks and marks the beginning of the tech giant’s goals to enhance security in the country’s financial sector and around the world.
A sleeping blockchain giant?
When it comes to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, South Korea has been a significant player for a long time. At a point, cryptocurrency prices in South Korea were ahead of global prices, sparking what is known as the Kimchi Premium, the price gap between cryptocurrencies on South Korean exchanges compared to foreign exchanges. In 2017, the price of Bitcoin in South Korea hit $25,000 when global prices stood at 20,000 USD. Additionally, Ether prices on South Korean exchanges were, at a point, 100 USD above global prices. Though these events gingered the country’s regulatory authorities to ban minors and foreigners from trading in digital currencies, South Korea is still a crypto and blockchain hub.
As the third largest cryptocurrency market in the world, about 31 percent of South Korea’s working population invests in bitcoin and altcoins. The country has been home to many successful ICOs, including BOScoin, ICON, and Glosfer among others. South Korea has also developed a more proactive approach to dealing with cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
Lawmakers in the country are gearing up to regulate the launch of new cryptocurrencies, a top court recognized cryptocurrencies as assets in May 2018, and the authorities are also championing the development of the “Crypto Beach” project, an initiative reminiscent of Switzerland’s Crypto Valley. Speaking at the 2018 Global Blockchain Conference in Seoul about the Crypto Beach, Chairman of the Korea ICT Financial Convergence Association Oh Jung-Geun said:
“I need a place to concentrate on the cryptographic industry in Korea like the Crypto Valley in Switzerland… I looked around the state of Jukkas at the institute and made a crypto beach in Haeundae on Aug. 30, We are planning a conference event to discuss with the Busan city.”
South Korea is on a path to adopting blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Samsung’s BankSign’s goal of revolutionizing inter-bank transactions for customers, its Nexledger for businesses, the higher interest in cryptocurrencies in South Korea compared to other parts of the world makes it a blockchain and crypto heaven not just for banks, but also for all citizens. Add in the fact that that the country is home to popular crypto exchanges such as Bithumb, UPBit, Coinone, Korbit, and Coinplug among others and it seems like the future is bright for crypto in South Korea. Perhaps, the ‘Kimchi Premium’ is affecting even blockchain adoption and usage in South Korea.