Category Archives: Blockchain Innovation

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South Korea’s $4.4B Innovation Plan Gives Blockchain Fiscal Support

The South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance has announced that the government will be investing KRW 5 trillion (USD 4.4 billion) into innovative industries in 2019, including blockchain technology.

Major increase

The press release from 13 August, ‘Growth through Innovation Investment Plan’, reveals the rationale behind a KRW 2 trillion increase in investment from 2018 to 2019. Furthermore, the future plans to spend KRW 9-10 trillion over the next five years.

It writes, “The government decided to focus on two platforms, a digital platform for big data analytics and a supply chain for hydrogen fuel cells, and announced four projects, including an education project to develop qualified human capital needed.”

The developing education program intends to generate a qualified workforce of at least 10,000 strong over the next five years.

The big data facet of “platform economy” investment will focus on promoting big data, AI and developing blockchain technology. The government will financially support small business to utilize big data and push the “development of digital trade platforms for exporters”.


Headlines emerging from South Korea often point toward its relentlessly prudent planning for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). There is plenty of talk across the globe surrounding the technologies such as AI, the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain, that are set to completely disrupt and advance the world we know, but none seem quite as proactively prepared as South Korea.

In recent months, the South Korean government has put out several notable blockchain related projects that give focus to blockchain technologies. A blockchain development program for the younger generations was recently announced, as were recommendations for a blockchain-based stock market, a blockchain-based proposal evaluation system and a bank-backed ID system that utilized blockchain are just the tip of the iceberg.

Recent headlines

Most recently, the self-governing province of Jeju island in South Korea made proposals to turn the island into a blockchain and cryptocurrency development hub. The governor of the island has requested that the South Korean government form a specialist panel to strategize this initiative.

Special tax rules for “New-Growth Technologies” were also announced recently, this would be to incentivize the establishment of innovative startups across many technological fields including blockchain.

However, it had previously been reported that cryptocurrency exchanges would not be included within this new tax law. On 13 August, a press release from the South Korean government confirmed that this would be the case, writing:

“The Small and Medium Venture Business Department [of the MSS] has no intention to regulate cryptocurrency trading and disclosures (ICOs), but as problems such as speculation emerge, cryptocurrency exchanges are not a target for the government to encourage as a venture enterprise.”


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“Dream City” International Blockchain Collaboration Between China and ConsenSys

In a world first, the Chinese City of Xiong’an will be home to a blockchain deployment program, transforming the newly-established ‘number-one urban project‘ into a “dream city”, backed by President Xi Jinping.


Over the past three decades, urban development in China has been exploding; major cities have been receiving record levels of funding, and areas such as Shenzhen and Shanghai’s Pudong have been placed on a special list for development throughout the past 40 years.

Xiong’an is one of the most recent additions to the list of “mega-cities” and has been a largely underdeveloped area. In April, plans for the Xiong’an New Area were revealed as well as documents guiding the cities development through to 2035.

Bolstered by blockchain

These ambitious developments have received a rocket-fueled boost as a significant partnership between Xiong’an and blockchain development company ConsenSys.

On 23 July, ConsenSys and the Xiong’an government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the “dream city” project, marking the first time that Xiong’an has publicly recruited a foreign development studio to aid in its blockchain efforts.

Blockchain is high up on the city’s technological agenda, it is one of several technological fields that the government has listed as part of cutting-edge and can transform Xiongan into a leading tech hub for the country.

Joseph Lubin, Ethereum co-founder and ConsenSys founder said in a statement, “As one of our first major projects in the People’s Republic of China, we are excited to help define the many “use cases” that could benefit from the trust infrastructure enabled by Ethereum technology.”

According to the South China Morning Post, the full MoU has not been published, though in a statement ConsenSys wrote, it would “… follow with agreements addressing different aspects of this innovative multi-faceted initiative, and establish Xiongan as a next-generation smart city and a leading blockchain innovation hub”.

ConsenSys has several global partnerships on the go; Ireland is in partnership with the studio to develop and deploy Ethereum-based blockchain platforms and products, and the Philippines, for example, are working with the studio to bridge gaps between the unbanked and traditional financial services.

Billions upon billions

China is pumping extraordinary amounts of money into domestic blockchain developments. In April, one of the specially designated mega-cities Shenzhen was reported to be investing CNY 500 million (USD 80 million) into blockchain startups in the city in a public-private partnership.

Before that, the city of Hangzhou received USD 1.6 billion to invest in blockchain effort. The funding project has already opened a Blockchain Industrial Park with ten blockchain projects from around the world being “successfully contracted” into it.

Most recently, Nanjing City is set to receive CNY 10 billion (USD 1.48 billion) worth of investment to support public blockchain projects in another public-private fund that will support academic innovations, blockchain startups as well as established companies seeking to adopt blockchain technology.


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Microsoft and Amazon Embrace Blockchain

Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrencies are at the centre of a global tech breakaway from centralized systems to decentralized; the latest big movers to dip their toes in the future technology are Microsoft and Amazon.

Mainstream industry adoption

2018 has proven itself an extraordinarily productive year for the blockchain industry as a whole. During the massive bull run of December 2017, the world could barely take its eyes away from the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

As the dust of the market boom settled through January and February, the global discussion moved away from the literal value of the currency and instead began focusing on how blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies could be part of the modern and future world.

Some of the most definitive and progressive moves have come from major banks and financial institutions which in some regions are struggling to understand and regulate cryptocurrencies, while in other parts of the world, cryptocurrencies are being trialled for “cashless society” projects.

Two of the biggest names in the digital world, Microsoft and Amazon, have begun their foray into blockchain technology. They have entered into the space either due to their curiosities regarding the technology, or because they understand that the technology is an inevitable part of the future.

Multiple approaches from Microsoft

Microsoft has built its success on a centralized system and has not necessarily been a stranger to the blockchain. In 2014, it toyed with Bitcoin payments on the Windows and Xbox stores, but have since been exploring the more technical aspects of the technology beyond that of its monetary value.

In February 2018, Microsoft sought out to solve issues of digital personal data and identity management with blockchain technology. A month later in March, it backed the development of the world’s first blockchain based investment product with its cloud platform, Azure.

More recently, Microsoft displayed its passion for driving innovation by creating a simplified blockchain workbench application development tool on Azure that claims to speed up blockchain-based app creation.


The leading e-commerce company has been under pressure for a while to begin accepting cryptocurrencies. Though it doesn’t yet seem ready to do so, Amazon has opened its doors for blockchain related proposals through its cloud computing platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The company that revolutionized the e-commerce industry is setting itself up to be at the front of the race and is investing in blockchain through their partner ecosystem and infrastructure services.

AWS is welcoming proposals from partners who are involved in healthcare and life sciences, supply chain management, security, compliance and are also seeking those who wish to innovate with the company.

It is allowing users to create their blockchain applications via the service with CloudFormation Templates that almost bypasses the longevity of manual blockchain network setups.

A warm embrace

In the face of relentless negativity and speculation, Microsoft and Amazon appear to be on the same track as the rest of the blockchain industry. Despite their views on cryptocurrencies, they seem to have great faith in the technology. Furthermore, their cloud computing services now being tied with ease-of-access tools means that industry innovations can emerge at an even higher rate with Microsoft and Amazon backing them.


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