BEI News, a Korean-language news site focusing on China and technology, interviewed ICONLOOP director of public affairs Josh Choi on June 21 as part of a series of interviews celebrating the fourth anniversary of the site’s founding.

Choi said you need a careful approach to the Chinese market. You must avoid rushing in and instead adopt a differentiated strategy.

The paper points to the difficulties of the Chinese market. You need to use separate channels to reach Chinese online communities. Language presents a problem, but the bigger problem is the competition you face with the existing big players in Chinese-speaking markets such as NEO and TRON. There are many projects from the Chinese speaking world entering the Korean market, but few Korean projects are entering China. For Korean blockchain companies, the walls to the Chinese market remains high.

Choi says that China is an advanced country in the blockchain industry. It’s technologically powerful and has high network shares. To become a global network, ICON needs to target the Chinese market. To do that, Choi says you need to conduct thorough prior research on the Chinese market and adopt differentiated marketing strategies.

He notes that ICON is in the midst of its P-Rep campaign. In the case of EOS and TRON, China accounts for about 20 to 30 percent of their total nodes. In order to secure good P-Reps, ICON is conducting its campaign with the help of Chinese specialists.

ICON aims to select 22 main P-Reps and 78 sub-P-Reps. Currently, over 30 candidates have thrown their hats into the race. Over the next several months, ICON plans to strengthen its PR efforts in China, highlighting what sets ICON apart from other platforms and the unique competitiveness of its P-Reps.

Choi admits it’s true that ICON’s name recognition remains low. In order to attract P-Reps, the value of ICX should be able to show its growth potential. When approaching potential P-Reps in other regions, Choi says ICON tends to focus on their interest in expanding the ecosystem. In China, however, potential candidates take post-staking price formation especially seriously.

The article says ICON plans to provide support so that P-Reps receive stable income for running the network. Unlike EOS, where the rewards for block producers is fixed as a percentage of currency issued, ICON determines its rewards through governance, with P-Reps deciding how much currency is issued and the anticipated price. Sub-P-Reps, too, receive rewards based on the amount staked. This is something that sets ICON apart.

ICongress is in session

ICON will hold its P-Rep election in the second half of the year. At the end of September, its governance framework should become clear. At the end of the year, ICON will host “Icongress,” an annual celebration and strategy forum. 

ICON is currently preparing for its gradual transformation into a decentralized network in accordance with its roadmap. ICON’s goal is to establish a unique reward system and sound governance model that set it apart from other projects.

ICON is now testing the technology to connect loopchain-based private chains and ICON’s public chain. The next stage is to connect the public chain with PoS networks like Ethereum and TRON. Lastly, the project plans to connect the network to PoW chains such as Bitcoin. When this happens, ICON will be complete as an interchain project.

Choi defines an interchain as something that connects private and public chains and, ultimately, different blockchains. This would also include enterprise consortium blockchains in sectors such as finance, health and public administration.

According to ICON’s white paper, the interchain refers to private chain communities. P-Reps from the public sector, hospitals, schools and elsewhere would participate in ICON as nodes. The P-Reps, in turn, would connect the networks in question to ICON.

Banking on smart cities

One of the major focuses of ICON’s enterprise solution push has been “smart cities.”

Choi says it’s his job to ensure that ICON’s blockchain technology and solutions can be used within the broader framework of smart cities. He finds appropriate solutions required by smart cities, including blockchain-based administrative services, voting, energy management, resource and government management and environmental safety. 

ICON has been designated Seoul Metropolitan Government’s standard blockchain platform. Based on this, ICON is pursuing a blockchain-based smart city project in cooperation with the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO). Several cities have already applied to take part. The candidate cities will be selected by the end of June. 

Choi said ICON was looking at the cities that applied based on their ideas, infrastructure and the proactiveness of the officials charged with the project. ICON was comprehensively considering whether ICON could offer solutions to the ideas presented.

Transforming Africa

ICONLOOP, too, is working to expand its global business, taking part in May in the Transform Africa Summit in Rwanda.

 ICONLOOP is also a Knowledge Partner in the ITU’s Smart Incubator Programme. The ITU is the UN body that handles information and communication technology. The incubator program focuses on supporting early-stage startups in developing nations, particularly in the big data, AI and blockchain sectors.

 In particular, ICONLOOP was working to produce substantive results in Africa’s agricultural sector. Choi said ICONLOOP was currently discussing a blockchain-based supply chain project for the agricultural sector. He said ICONLOOP plans to pursue with African governments a variety of on-the-ground pilot projects, focusing on the core values blockchain can bring.