“If somebody asks where blockchain is being used, we can tell them to take a look at the marketplace.”
That’s where Hangjin Kim envisions ICON LAP100, the ICON platform’s emerging alliance for public blockchain-based enterprise solutions. Hangjin Kim, the Director of Business Development at ICONLOOP, wants to create a marketplace where those who are curious about blockchain but still a bit skeptical can see the technology for themselves. He says, “We can show people that blockchain is a verified technology.”
A multifaceted approach to building out a platform
As followers of ICON well know, ICON operates a global accelerator program, ICX_Station, with the goal of expanding the network’s ecosystem by encouraging developers to build upon the ICON platform. In fact, ICON is the only Korean blockchain project to operate such a global accelerator program, with Launchpads in San Francisco, Tokyo and Seoul. These accelerators have played a key role in transforming ICON from a local project into a truly worldwide initiative.
But ICON isn’t stopping there. In December of last year, ICON announced the formation of ICON LAP100 (ICON Loopchain Alliance Program), an enterprise blockchain alliance based on the ICON public blockchain, powered by loopchain technology. The goal, reflected in the name of the alliance itself, is to jointly develop customized blockchain solutions with 100 companies and startups. These solutions may be enterprise-specific, but the network on which they are built will be public. The solutions under consideration include fields such as biometric identification, certification issuance, IoT, distribution, electric cars, healthcare, consulting and payments. When ICON held the launch event for ICON LAP100, the companies and projects that attended included Raonsecure, Digitalzone, DataAlliance, Matrix2B, OWDIN Network, Charzin, TheVita, Liwonace, Cryptofuture, and TeamK.
Like ICX Station, ICON LAP100 intends to build out the ICON ecosystem by encouraging entities — in this case, corporate entities — to adopt blockchain technology, boosting the fortunes of not only ICON, but of blockchain technology as a whole.
Kim imagines something like OpenBazaar, a place where you can find the very best applications blockchain has to offer. He believes you need to prove the utility of a technology before you can really monetize it. The failure to do so is at the root of so much of the public and government’s concern about blockchain. ICON LAP100 will help ease these worries by proving that blockchain isn’t a scam, but an existing product offering real enterprise solutions.
He says, “If we define the technology ourselves, the government will have nothing to worry about.”
Though ICON LAP100 will begin with just 100 of the most useful applications, Kim sees it later expanding to 1000 applications. And after that, 2000 applications. The alliance should launch in earnest in the second quarter of the year.
A BLOCKCHAIN BELIEVER
Kim truly believes in the potential of blockchain technology. A seasoned veteran with over 20 years of experience working in information security, he was amazed by blockchain’s elegant solution to the so-called “CIA triad” — confidentiality, integrity and availability, the core issues of information security. The decentralized approach turned the field on its head, potentially rendering decades of established concepts and practices obsolete. And like so many paradigm-shattering technologies, it did so by thinking outside the box.
The solution seems so obvious now that it makes Kim feel a bit silly. He says, “I wondered why I didn’t think of the idea myself.”
Still, it’s not easy getting companies to sign on with the new technology. Though many corporate technology officers see the beauty in blockchain, few want to bear the risk of being an innovator. Convincing people to embrace the risk is the toughest part of Kim’s job, in fact. He says, “People think it’s a good technology, but they want to use it after other people are already using it.”
He needs no convincing, though. He likes leading the charge. Like so many in the tech sector, it’s why he gets up in the morning. “My favorite part of the job is the new technology. That I’m in the front line of changing the world,” he says. “Maybe all the ICON Council members are the same way.”
He likens himself and those like him to people who work at big construction companies: they often find it difficult to work anywhere else. “When they pass a big bridge or something like that, they think to themselves, ‘I made that.’”
Still, he cautions the market — and blockchain executives, for that matter — to be realistic in their expectations. Regardless of what critics might say, two years is really fast to build a platform. Even if you push your developers to meet deadlines, you shouldn’t push out bad products just to move quickly.
He points to the history of the Internet. Though the technology was born in 1969, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the masses began to embrace it. He says, “It took 30 years for the World Wide Web to emerge.”