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South Korea commits $3.1m to fund blockchain trials

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Earlier this week, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) announced the ‘Blockchain Technology Verification (PoC) Support Project’. The initiative invites applications from blockchain firms and will provide technical and financial support for testing use cases. 

Blockchain is still a nascent technology, and many projects though ambitious, do not make it into production. A few weeks ago, a Wipro study found that only 14% of the projects it studied from different industries were in production. The project by MSIT and NIPA aims to solve technical issues faced by blockchains in the early stage and support them in reaching commercial production. 

“We plan to support domestic specialized companies to grow rapidly in the early stage of the blockchain market, enabling the blockchain ecosystem to be revitalized,” said Park Yoon-kyu Information and Communication Policy Officer at MSIT. “PoC (proof of concept) support business discovers various blockchain cases and creative blockchain service.”

 The initiative is open to any organization and will select a total of nine projects by April 6. Each proposal will be awarded up to 450 million Korean won ($362,000) with total limit of of 3.9 billion Korean won ($3.1 million. NIPA will plan and prototype blockchain service models for the selected companies, and help with design, implementation and demonstration of the use cases. 

NIPA and MSIT ran a similar initiative last year and selected 11 companies. This resulted in five patent applications, none copyright registrations, three MoUs, and two investment opportunities. Korean blockchain firm FLETA’s clinical trial data management system (eCRF system) was one of the projects supported by government agencies. 

South Korean enterprises, as well as the government, is exploring several blockchain applications. The country is offering tax breaks to blockchain firms to promote innovation. The country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is developing an interoperable blockchain system for arms procurement. 

Korea Telecom has projects for food traceabilityIoT security, and inter-carrier payments, among others. 

There are three separate blockchain identity projects in the country. The ‘Initial DiD Association’, is comprised of firms like Nonghyup Bank, SK Telecom, LG U+, Samsung and others, is developing a self-sovereign identity for users. 

The Korea Financial Telecommunications and Clearings Institute (KTFC) has launched blockchain digital IDs for financial services. ICONLOOP is another Korean initiative which launched its DiD service ‘my-ID’. 

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