SK Planet, a South Korean telecommunications giant, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the nation’s very-own ICON Foundation to integrate blockchain into existing products, such as the loyalty program known as “OK Cashbag.” 38 million Koreans already use OK Cashbag, giving SK Planet’s planned implementation the potential to become one of the first blockchain implementations to be widely used right out of the gate.
Plans Include Support of Businesses in Korea
As reported by The Next Web, in addition to revamping products like OK Cashbag and Syrup using Blockchain, SK Planet and ICON plan to support the overall blockchain industry in Korea. This includes working with academia and providing support for the implementation of blockchain technologies in Korean businesses.
Speaking on his excitement for the partnership, JM Park, the head of SK Planet’s marketing platform, stated:
“Blockchain appears to be one of the key technologies that will promote market transformation in existing industry for the medium and long-term.”
ICON Is Still an Enigma
ICON, and its native ICX token, are often regarded as an anomaly because it hasn’t made its code open-source for public inspection. This is a departure from the common practice of making a codebase available for anyone to inspect, which has become an everyday sight in the cryptocurrency space. This has occasionally led to questions about the integrity of its network.
In response, Head of Global Business at the startup, Henry Lee, hinted that the code might be made public in an Around the Block podcast episode two months ago. However, ICON has not yet indicated when this release would actually occur.
ICON’s operations are further complicated by the fact that it primarily deals with ICOs and ICOs are still illegal in South Korea. It has gotten around this by setting up shop in Switzerland. Regardless, its token, ICX, is also available on Korean exchanges.
Korea’s Mixed Messages
ICON’s new partnership with SK Planet may also be part of a strategy aimed at convincing Korea to loosen up on cryptocurrency and ICO regulations. Korean regulators have occasionally sent mixed messages on cryptocurrency by going back and forth on regulation.
In January, South Korea’s justice ministry indicated that Korea had plans in the works to ban cryptocurrency, and then seemed to walk back its stance after the announcement rocked cryptocurrency markets. The finance ministry responded swiftly with a statement indicating that such an announcement may have been premature because it required coordination between ministries.
Reported multi-million-dollar hacks of Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have not helped matters, as these events could give the country’s regulators a greater reason to crack down on cryptocurrency-related activities.
By making blockchain an important component of the Korean economy, however, the new partnership between ICON and SK Planet may encourage the South Korean government to take a friendlier approach to the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. The 38 million Koreans using OK Cashbag represents nearly half the country’s population, which will make blockchain, and subsequently, cryptocurrencies much more difficult for the government to ignore.