Even though regulatory hardship and very hostile framework for blockchain ventures Korea has a thriving blockchain ecosystem. Industries involved in applying blockchain are FinTech, insurance, logistics, health, social media, and IP rights. The messaging service Kakao – Korea´s WhatsApp – debuted a Blockchain platform called Klaytn, Line Corporation (Subsidiary of Naver) introduced its own cryptocurrency (Link Token), and Samsung revealed their cryptocurrency wallet for their Galaxy S10. Korean Blockchain startups are also continuing to drive Blockchain adoption in Korea. Below some of the most popular blockchain startups, it is by far not complete an reflects my very personal views:
1. ICON Foundation (ICONLOOP)
ICON is the largest and most popular blockchain network in Korea. It has a vision of building a digital nation known as the ICON Republic where disparate and heterogeneous communities with differing economic, social and governance ideals can interact seamlessly over the ICON network through the unique implementation of BTP (Blockchain Transfer Protocol). The protocol will enable blockchains within the ICON network to exchange value similar to that of a decentralized exchange. Service invocations are also possible, where the execution of a smart contract on another blockchain will share the same result. BTP further enables horizontal scaling similar to the side chain approach. Bridging communities allows for value and information to be shared seamlessly across the network, thus empowering the next evolution of the digital transformation.
ICON implemented projects with the Seoul Metropolitan Government, National Election Commission, and Kyobo Life Insurance among others. ICONLOOP is the developer of Loopchain, a technology to connect different blockchains separately developed by individual companies. Their focus in 2019 will be on IRC16. The IRC16 is a newly added token standard based on ICON’s public blockchain network. In addition, they will focus on ICON’s Decentralized Exchange (DEX) for p2p exchange between ICX and IRC2.
Min Kim is Co-Founder, he has a background in FinTech and Deutsche Bank and many years of experience with blockchain projects.
Josh Choi COO holds a degree of Korea´s renomated Yonsei University and gained experience at the UN International Telecommunication Union.
Korean Blockchain startup Terra aims to create a stablecoin that can be used on Terra’s Blockchain payment solution. Therefore their focus is to create the next generation modern financial system on the Blockchain. Their focus in 2019 will be to target e-Commerce platforms through the Terra Alliance which is a group of global e-Commerce partners (TMON, Woowa Brothers, Baedal Minjok, and etc) to help drive mass adoption and the use of Blockchain payment systems. In addition, they have already created their own Blockchain-based simple payment service called Terra Pay. The potential Terra could go beyond e-Commerce and into all types of financial products like loans and insurance.
Terra has been aggressive in their partnerships to bring in eCommerce companies to join their Terra Alliance ecosystem. Sinsang Market is a business to business fashion platform that will work with Terra to create a payment system that uses the Korean mobile payment service CHAI. Terra’s platform offers better order settlements, payments, and deliveries through CHAI.
Terra was able to close a $32 million funding round led by major cryptocurrency exchanges like OKEx, Huobi Capital, and Binance Labs
Xank is the only cryptocurrency that works like a stablecoin while having investment value. Xank offers a very unique Stable Pay feature which allows to spend, send, and hold the free-floating Xank cryptocurrency as a price stable currency. This payment currency has been founded by
Korean Blockchain startup Medibloc that uses Blockchain technology for the healthcare data system. It is very difficult for healthcare providers to get the complete data of a patient. Therefore this complete data is important for getting an accurate diagnosis for the most effective treatment. Furthermore, MediBloc provides a data integration system that gathers patients medical information through real-time updates. In addition, the patients are in control of their medical records. The records are kept confidential according to HIPPA regulations. Therefore, the patients are the ones who can grant access to their personal medical data.
MediBloc offers a secure and transparent data storage system. Therefore, all new entries come with a location and time stamp. The MediBloc system their own token called MEDX which will serve as the primary medium of exchange between all users on MediBloc. MediBloc has strategic partnerships with many institutions in both the healthcare and financial industries.
In 2018, MediBloc raised over $10 million through an ICO and will look to get institutional investments in 2019.
Co-Founder is LEE Eunsol who has a background as medical doctor.
Korean Blockchain startup Blocko that focuses on providing a Blockchain system for transaction validation, user authentication, wallet management, and micropayment solutions. Blocko has been working with Bank of Korea to help them use blockchain technology for their financial transactions among consumers.
Blocko builds and supports its hybrid Blockchain AERGO Enterprise which allows companies to build applications and services by sharing data on a trustless and serverless IT ecosystem. AERGO Enterprise offers a greater level of security, scalability, and performance. Blocko has built over 20-full scale Blockchain implementations on private and public Blockchain ledgers. For 2019 they will focus on implementing a Blockchain solution for land registry in South Korea.
Blocko was able to get $9 during the last round of funding in June of last year.
6. Haechi Labs – Henesis
Korean Blockchain startup Haechi Labs is an expert for smart contract audits. They have done audits for Ground X’s Klaytn and have worked with them on their launch of their mainnet. Their focus for 2019 will be on their Blockchain SaaS solution called Henesis. Henesis removes technological barriers for companies looking for Blockchain adoption. Therefore, the solution will reduce the time and cost involved with Blockchain development. In addition, companies will be able to easily collect, process and deliver their Blockchain data in real-time. Their solution has already been tested with Shinhan Bank. Their aim is to be an all-in-one platform for Blockchain integration.
7. Kodebox (CodeChain)
Korean Blockchain startup CodeChain is a Blockchain network with a built-in issuance and exchange protocols. Therefore, now digital assets issued on CodeChain can be programmed and customized so that it can comply with the regulations of a particular country. In addition, their mobile wallet offers a simple verification process, easy to use interface and fast/secure transactions.
CodeChain is the only project that is funded by two of the biggest exchange operators in Korea (Bithumb and Upbit).
8. Scanetchain (Inxight)
Korean Blockchain startup Scanetchainrecently launched their new DApp Inxight, their new AR Blockchain platform. Inxight is an open-source platform which combines advertisements, search engines, and e-Commerce platforms. They use AR technology to identify products both online and offline by assigning a scannable market for each product or image. Furthermore, Inxight uses its SWC token for payments or discounts.
Their “beta” version of their marker scanning reward system will be available in the next software update. Inxight aims to change the way people search for things. Scanetchain has been aggressive in entering into a number of strategic partnerships to grow the ecosystem and bring greater value to their users.
9. FANTOM Foundation
Korean Blockchain startup FANTOM Foundation is a non-profit organization that is building an infrastructure for decentralized global finance. They do not use Blockchain but rather an approach called a directed acyclic graph (DAG). They have a DAG-based distributed ledger technology (DLT) that incorporates new methods for scalability with a high-performance virtual machine for a more secure smart contract execution. The networks aim is to build an infrastructure to power smart cities, IOTs, and offer faster payment solutions. Furthermore, it could be a secure and efficient platform for public utilities, medical records, healthcare services, identity storage and more.
10. Cosmochain (FitsMe)
Korean Beauty blockchain startup Cosmochain is the creator of a Blockchain-based app service called FitsMe. FitsMe is a personalized beauty recommendation service that uses past purchase data and preference data to recommend the best cosmetic products. They already have attracted over 150,000 users from their beta service. Furthermore, they got $2.5 million in investments from a U.S. hedge fund. Samsung Electronics also selected Cosmochain as an initial DApp partner for its Galaxy S10 smartphone. In addition, the Galaxy Keystore, the cryptocurrency wallet for the Galaxy S10, supports CosmoCoin (COSM), the cryptocurrency used in FitsMe.
I also like Zikto (Insureum)
Korean Blockchain startup Zikto is the company behind the Insureum Protocol. The Insureum Protocol uses Blockchain technology to provide insurance companies with the data to create better policies. Zikto started out as a smart wearables company that did a great job of collecting data. In 2017 they partnered with KB Bank to launch “The Challenge” program that offered KB Kookmin cardholders rewards for their fitness data (walk count). The program ended in mid-2018 and was a huge success. Zikto looks to create a decentralized ecosystem that connects insurers, their policyholder, and third parties through the Insureum protocol.