This is a guest post by William McKenzie, Content Manager at P-Rep candidate Rhizome.

“Oh no, ICONLOOP news — this is completely meaningless for ICX”.

The statement above is one I see pervading almost daily in nearly all ICON social channels. While it could stem from multiple factors, I think a lack of education is the main causation for this mindset. 

The Iconist has explored the difference between the ICON and ICONLOOP in a previous article. This post will revisit the topic, and then give some deeper insights into how the two organizations encompass a synergistic relationship.


ICONLOOP is a blockchain tech company headquartered in Seoul that was founded by the Dayli Financial Group in 2016, one of the largest fintech companies in South Korea and Asia, collectively. Formerly known as “theloop”, ICONLOOP specializes in the design and implementation of blockchain technology. 

ICONLOOP has developed its own independent blockchain engine, loopchain, which powers ICX, or simply put, the ICON public chain. Furthermore, many of the projects associated with ICONLOOP comprise of private enterprise blockchain solutions tied to ICONLOOP’s loopchain. At the time of this writing, ICONLOOP has over 100 business partnerships with companies such as Samsung, LINE, SK, SBI and more. 

ICON is the public blockchain project developed by ICONLOOP and powered by loopchain. In this sense, ICONLOOP does not “own” ICON, rather the ICON Foundation relays oversight over the ICON project. Furthermore, as a public blockchain network, there can never truly be a “single owner”. 

Is ICON a Company?

ICON, the public blockchain project developed by ICONLOOP is not a company and no entity “owns ICON”. In easy-to-glean terms, ICON represents the public side of everything as a public blockchain project, whereas ICONLOOP is the private chain implementation of loopchain, which powers ICX (ICON). 

In the words of Min Kim himself:

“People continue to think of ICON as a company. ICON is not a company, but a public project. I’m not the CEO. I don’t make all the decisions. The ICON team started with 30 [people, and now has] over 140. Now I consider all P-Rep candidates and community members (e.g. The Iconist News) that are vouching for ICON as ‘the ICON team’.”

A further inducement to adhere to from this quote is essentially that Min is referring to the community and P-Reps as encompassing the ICON team. Which, after the conclusion of the P-Rep election, 22 main P-Rep’s will be elected to govern the ICON network and decentralization of the network will begin. 

How is This So?

In Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) protocols similar to ICON (such as EOS, BitShares or Lisk) which utilize Delegated Proof-of-Contribution (DPoC) consensus algorithms, block producers are elected to make decisions for the network (governance) and produce/validate blocks and transactions. In this sense, ICON P-Reps are motivated to contribute to the ecosystem and will comprise the governing body of the network following the conclusion of the P-Rep election in September. 

Furthermore, when Min remarks about “the ICON team” as being the community members, he is collectively referring to all community members, P-Reps, EEPs and DApps as being the real ICON team, as they will encompass the governing body of the network and make decisions about the network’s future, with the community’s best interest in mind. In DPoC protocols, if there were to be a bad actor, there are ways to minimize and remove that threat. 

2infiniti goes into great length on the particular topic of collusion in DPoC protocols in a post here, for reference.

ICONLOOP’s Relationship to ICON

ICONLOOP’s relationship to ICON is a synergistic one for a few reasons. A great way to understand this relationship is to look at the announcement of Seoul launching blockchain-based citizen cards and tools for easy access to various administrative services.

According to a recent tweet by Min Kim, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is mandated to use ICONLOOP’s loopchain as the “standard blockchain platform for all current and future applications”. 

How does this relate to ICX (ICON)?

ICONLOOP is the private chain implementation of loopchain, the core engine that powers ICX, the cryptocurrency of the public blockchain project, ICON. While in this particular instance ICX is not being used for the blockchain ID itself, future applications of the ID could utilize ICX. ICONLOOP, a private chain, does not make use of ICX. However, ICON (the public chain) serves as a point in which if the two were to need to communicate between one another, ICON will be able to connect them together through interoperability.

To better understand this relationship between ICONLOOP and ICON, let’s use an analogy. Think of ICON as a network of roads. These roads need a place to go and connect to. Those “places” that they link up with — the cities, if you will — are what we can view ICONLOOP as comprising. When it comes time to connect to private chains (cities), ICON is the only public loopchain-based blockchain that is capable of true interoperability.

On a more general scope, ICONLOOP’s relationship to ICON is not unique in this space, in terms of structure. In fact, many other projects such as Cardano, Cosmos and EOS, to name a few, are nearly identical in structure. This is evident within Cardano’s connection to IOHK, Cosmos’ connection to Tendermint and EOS’ connection to