Blockchain’s Interoperability Barriers Being Bridged By South Korea’s ICONbr>
ICON is a blockchain and cryptocurrency (ICX) that had a fast-track to the top of the digital currency markets. Holding its token sale in September 2017, the company raised $42M within six hours.
At the end of December, the ICX token began trading on two cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance and OKEx. By the end of the first day of trading, ICX achieved a $1 billion market cap, putting this newcomer well into the top 50 coins, far ahead of much more established blockchains.
Blockchain author and evangelist Don Tapscott, who acted as an advisor during ICON’s token sale, recently cited ICON as a new platform to watch in 2018, writing that it addresses “critical issues of scalability, interoperability and governance.”
The company’s launch of its mainnet on January 25, ICON will bring online many of the “interchain” functionalities the technology makes possible. Its loopchain interoperability blockchain is already in use in by 50 companies in Korea, including hospitals, insurance companies, securities firms, banks and universities,
Last month, ICoN announced the Blockchain Interoperability Alliance with Aion and Wanchain. This Alliance will promote interconnectivity between isolated blockchain networks and will collaborate in research on interchain transactions and communication.
ICON co-founder Min Kin answered a few Block Tribune questions.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What was it like in the room when the ICO raised $42 million in six hours? Were you shocked, humbled, laughing…?
MIN KIM: This was a big surprise to everyone at ICON. We knew we had a strong number of supporters in Korea. We also had some idea of our support level outside of Korea. Therefore, we felt confident being able to hit our target of 150,000 ETH by our official crowdsale launch in October 20th. However, finishing our fundraising in six hours, one month ahead of schedule, especially when we capped individual contribution at 30 ETH per person… This was far beyond our expectations, and very humbling.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: The ultimate goal for ICON – interoperability between chains of all stripes? Explain so a non-developer can understand the problem.
MIN KIM: The world is being organized in blockchain communities but they are isolated from each other. ICON is a decentralized network where everyone can connect to the other communities and share services.
A simple example is one involving the insurance and the hospital blockchains. When a patient visits the hospital for a treatment, the patient must manually submit documents to their insurers to file claims. This is due to privacy regulations in many countries that don’t allow hospitals to share information directly with private insurance companies.
Using ICON and loopchain technology, hospitals can authenticate and securely send the information needed to the insurance to check and approve the claim, making the process easier and faster. The process is automatically made through the blockchain and the patient can get the insurance money more quickly.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What does the ICON token allow its users to do? Is this a pure equity play, or is there some utility to it?
MIN KIM: The ICON token or ICX will be used as payment among the DAPPs on the Mainnet but also in the other blockchains once they get connected. The first 2 blockchains to connect this year will be the Mainnet and the Universities Blockchain (now being formed by the Korea National University, Pohang University of Technology and Sogang University)
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How has the recent upheavals in regulation in Korea affected you? Any insights into why this is happening?
MIN KIM: ICON hasn’t been directly affected by these regulations. Last year we partnered with KOFIA to launch CHAIN ID, a blockchain-based bank authentication and it’s being used among the members of The Korea Financial Investment Blockchain Consortium.
I am generally pro-regulation. The recent acts from the Korean government trying to regulate blockchain means that this is an industry that they can no longer ignore. I think this regulations will help the blockchain community in Korea feel more safe and will even push the already optimistic feeling about the future of blockchain.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What do you see happening in the world of blockchain in 2018? In tokens?
MIN KIM: After 2017, the blockchain technology has been in the spotlight with new projects and ICOs. I believe 2018 will see a wave of entrepreneurs experimenting with blockchain, looking to solve existing problems and also bringing innovation.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are your barriers to growth?
MIN KIM: We’ve just launched our mainnet, which makes it possible to bring DAPPs online. Now we’re eager to do that and it seems like it cannot happen fast enough. Getting developers onto ICON isn’t so much a barrier as it is a challenge. We already have five major DAPPs under development and a much broader array of smaller DAPPs. We’re eager to see more.
There aren’t really any technical barriers to growth for ICON. We engineered loopchain to grow, so that we wouldn’t run into some of the scaling issues that hit earlier cryptocurrencies.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: By this time next year, ICON will be…let’s hear your prediction.
MIN KIM: Next week, January 31, ICON is hosting the 1st Annual Summit where we will be showcasing the Mainnet and introducing a number of DApps that will run on top of ICON network.
After Mainnet, we will begin to see various DApps from gaming, media content, security, tools, services, etc. Basically a wide-range of services are planning to launch on top of ICON network. It is difficult to say when exactly they will launch because we are still in very early. However, 2017 was the year that the entire Korea woke up to blockchain. 2018 is the year where we know many experienced tech entrepreneurs will begin to experiment with blockchain.