Earlier this month, The Iconist provided an overview of the MOUs signed by ICON and ICONLOOP, exploring the extensive network of relationships forged by the public blockchain network and its chief technology partner.
As we said at the time:
One of the ICON project’s most defining features is the amount of energy the platform has spent building relationships with other projects, enterprises and organizations. These collaborative agreements create use cases, generate synergies and promote wider adoption of blockchain technology. They are the building blocks of the “hyperconnected world” ICON aspires to erect.
MOUs, however, can take time to produce results. This gestation period can lead some to wonder whether MOUs, regardless of how numerous, yield any tangible benefits.
Crypto-Rome wasn’t built in a day
All of ICON and ICONLOOP’s MOUs are concluded with a particular goal in mind. Or as one ICON official put it to this writer, “Every MOU has its own specific purpose.”
How long it takes for an MOU to achieve that purpose depends on the individual agreement.
That said, there are factors at work that slow down MOU development in the blockchain space.
Firstly, Software as a Service (SaaS) faces an especially long sales timeline. Timelines of six months or more are common; some SaaS solutions face timelines of over a year. Even SaaS titans such as Salesforce experience sales timelines of half a year.
In the case of blockchain, things take even longer. New and exceptionally complicated, the technology presents a steep learning curve. This, in turn, necessitates a longer sales timeline. Additionally, though there are plenty of people seemingly interested in the technology, far fewer actually pull the trigger on a purchase. Ricky Dodds, the ICON Foundation’s Head of Institutional Markets, says, “There’s a heavy dose of ‘tire-kickers’ in the space among corporations and other entities.”
If there’s a bright side, at least on sales timeline front, it’s that the situation seems to be improving. “Things are changing. Corporations are now fully ramped up and the value proposition has proven out,” says Dodds. “Perhaps these cycles will converge over the next few years.”
Regulatory uncertainty is lengthening MOU development times, too.
The lack of a stable and consistent legal framework has slowed down innovation and kept would-be participants in the blockchain space on the sidelines. Korea’s regulatory environment has been a mixed bag at best. High-profile hacks, the crypto winter and occasionally negative press coverage of blockchain and especially cryptocurrency have not helped. This slows down projects and engenders hesitation on the part of potential clients.
It might be worth noting that even if news of development isn’t forthcoming, this doesn’t mean things aren’t moving forward. MOUs, by definition, involve more than one party. This inevitably makes disclosing information a more complicated process, especially if there are third parties involved.
Producing results already
As we noted earlier, many of ICON’s and ICONLOOP’s are relatively recent.
Still, some are already yielding tangible results.
ICONLOOP has been working with SBI Savings Bank, one of Korea’s largest savings banks, since November 2018. Last month, ICONLOOP announced the launch of “SBI Simple Authentication,” the Korean savings bank sector’s first blockchain-based authentication service. As ICONLOOP CEO J.H. Kim said at the time, “Blockchain-based ‘SBI Simple Authentication’ has the opportunity to be a leading solution in financial markets to enhance both convenience and safety by applying blockchain to services that are actually being used.” It was a major step forward, and one that would not have been achieved without an MOU.