2018 was an eventful year in the ICON Republic. Though the collapse of the global crypto market was certainly unpleasant, to say the least, the past year also provided much to celebrate as the ICON ecosystem continued to develop and grow. Let’s take a look at what The Iconist considers the top ten developments in the ICON Republic in 2018.
1. ICON partners with LINE PLUS to found UNCHAIN
In May, ICON and LINE PLUS, the Korean subsidiary of the hugely popular social networking platform LINE, announced they’d co-founded UNCHAIN, a joint venture to create a blockchain ecosystem fueled by a token economy that rewards users for their contributions to the network. DApp services discovered through ICON and Unblock, LINE’s subsidiary for blockchain research and DApp project acceleration, will be integrated into UNCHAIN. LINE boasts over 200 million average users worldwide, especially in Japan and Southeast Asia. H.K. Lee, ICON’s technical director at the time, became UNCHAIN’s first CEO.
2. Samsung Pass to use CHAIN ID
Also in May, the Korea Financial Investment Association (KOFIA) signed an MOU with Samsung Electronics to incorporate CHAIN ID in the Samsung Pass service.
The world’s first blockchain-based joint authentication system, CHAIN ID was developed using Loopchain. Some 25 financial companies in Korea currently use it.
Samsung Pass, meanwhile, is an “identity management as-a-service” that uses biometric authentication to ensure secure access. Loopchain’s adoption by the Korean electronics giant could promote wider adoption of blockchain technology, a win not just for ICON, but for the blockchain industry as a whole. This is doubly so in light of recent reports that Samsung may be delving even deeper into blockchain by developing cold wallets for its smartphones (reports Samsung so far denies).
3. ICON launches Mainnet
ICON history was made on Jan. 24, 2018, when the team generated the Genesis Block of the ICON Mainnet, a hash to which was fixed a note of Mille Plateaux, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s definition of a rhizome.
And so ICON’s Mainnet was born.
The Mainnet has undergone several major updates since its launch. On Sept. 17, the ICON team launched Mainnet Version 3.0, boasting full implementation of SCORE, the implementation environment for ICON smart contracts. Along with Version 3.0, the team also opened TestNet, an environment that allows developers to test projects before deploying them to the Mainnet.
4. Token swap completed
ICON’s official token swap for the ERC20 ICX Token closed at 1 pm, Oct. 25 (KST) with a final swap rate of about 96 percent. The swap, which began in June, was scheduled to end on Sept. 25. Due to lower-than-expected swap completion rates, however, the team decided to extend the swap period for an extra month. Judging from the final swap rate, it was the right call.
Binance, Upbit, OKEx, DragonEx, Bithumb, Huobi, Bitrue, Gate.io and WazirX supported the swap, automatically swapping ERC20 ICX tokens stored in the exchanges to Mainnet ICX.
5. ICX_Station opens
ICX_Station, a global accelerator program sponsored by the ICON Foundation, announced its official launch in San Francisco on Aug. 17.
ICX Station aims to accelerate blockchain projects, push real world adoption and expand ICON’s ecosystem. The global community can access ICX_Station through its “Launchpads” throughout the world. Among other things, Launchpads offer investment; provide tech support; connect projects to advisors, industry experts and investors; introduce preferred service providers and host demo days. Four Launchpads are currently in operation – in Seoul, Tokyo, San Francisco and Singapore.
6. ICON demonstrates three DApps for Seoul Metropolitan Government
If there’s something that bodes well for ICON’s future, it’s the team’s ability to build meaningful partnerships with corporate and governmental entities.
Case in point: at October’s Blockchain International Digital Festival, ICON demonstrated three DApps that ICONLOOP had developed in collaboration with Seoul Metropolitan Government. The DApps demonstrated were the ICON Blockchain Identification Card, ICON Blockchain Vote and ICON Blockchain S-Coin Payments. The demonstrations gave visitors a chance to experience blockchain and how it can improve the lives of Seoul residents. It was also a starting point in constructing a city-based blockchain technology that may extend to all aspects of the Korean capital’s administration.
7. ICON x Korean Government
As Markus Jun noted in a post on Medium, ICON has “gone beyond just government projects and has undertaken a more active role in leading and shaping government initiatives.”
In July, the government named ICONLOOP a technology consultant for its project of “building the Next Generation Election System based on Intelligence Information Technology”. ICON has also held discussions with the governor of Jeju, worked on projects with Seoul Metropolitan Government (see above), and is involved in a variety of other government-backed projects.
The Korean government also awarded ICONLOOP its “Minister of Science and ICT Award” in recognition of its contributions to developing and promoting blockchain technology in Korea.
8. ICON, SK Group forge closer ties
In September, ICONLOOP signed an MOU with SK Holdings C&C, part of SK Group, one of Korea’s biggest business conglomerates. The goal of this partnership is to cooperate and co-develop blockchain business models for the financial sector, particularly for smaller, more nimble financial entities such as insurance companies and securities companies. In the same month, the ICON Foundation signed an MOU with SK Planet to link ICON’s blockchain technology with SK Planet’s leading mobile services, including its popular reward points program OK Cashbag and its mobile wallet Syrup. ICONLOOP also hired a long-time veteran of SK as its new Product Management Officer.
9. ICON partners with Korean insurance giant
In June, theloop (now ICONLOOP) signed an MOU with Kyobo Life to build a “next-generation blockchain insurance platform.” The development was the culmination of a lengthy process by ICON to build a strategic partnership with Kyobo Life, one of Korea’s largest insurance companies. In 2017, theloop launched an automated insurance claims service with Kyobo Life, a use case demonstrating the potential for blockchain technology in the real world.
ICON also joined Kyobo Life and digital health company LifeSimantics to develop “Lifelong Healthy Life,” a blockchain-based disease prediction service. The beta version launched in November.
10. ICON Developers Portal opens
The ICON team announced in August the official opening of the ICON Developers Portal. Though still a work in progress, the portal will provide everything ICON DApp developers need. It currently has overviews and explanations of SCORE, ICON’s smart contract; tutorials for T-bears, the ICON SCORE development suite; a forum; API references; developer documentation and more. On Dec. 18, management of the portal was transferred from blockchain ecosystem builders De:Nexo to ICONLOOP.