[I]f public healthcare data could be shared in real-time between experts and the public with 100% transparency, the data-powered platform will allow all the relevant entities to share their insights more effectively. And, this platform will allow experts who raised their voices in the media to partake in preventive measure research or policy-making process. The more transparent the process is, the more confidence the public will give to the nation and society.”

So posted Hashed CEO Simon Kim in an opinion piece on Cryptonews on Friday in which the head of South Korea’s best-known blockchain accelerator explores the ways in which blockchain technology could help the fight to contain the COVID-19 epidemic.

Kim blames the distrust, hatred and social disunity that has followed in COVID-19’s wake on the lack of protocol-based governance that could allow social consensus to emerge. He writes, “When people do not or cannot verify claims anymore, the misunderstanding leads to the difference in opinions.” National differences in information release standards, failures to communicate with the public and fake news have driven social anxiety.

Kim suggests that a blockchain-powered system that allows public healthcare data to be shared in a completely transparent manner would allow experts to better take part in the policy process and restore public confidence in the said policy process.

He also argues that blockchain could resolve some of the limits faced by app and web service developers involved in combating the outbreak.

He cites the example of “Corona Map,” an app that tracks where COVID-19 patients have visited. “[A]s the number of COVID-19 patients rocketed to hundreds, this app reached an impasse for a small team of devs that could not effectively show every location of hundreds of COVID-19 cases,” he writes. “And, I find the blockchain developer ecosystem as a good reference for building such services in times like this. We need a permissionless network that allows the integration of multiple applications without worrying about the absence of trust or the lack of creativity.”

In the Korean-language business news website Financial News, blockchain bureau deputy chief Lee Gu-sun also looks at what blockchain can do to combat COVID-19.

In her column, she raised the issue of trust, particularly as it applies to Shincheonji, the religious sect at the epicenter of South Korea’s COVID-19 outbreak.

The general public has no need to know the name of each and every believer of a particular religious group. Moreover, believers have no duty to disclose their religious beliefs to others. People need only know if they were at the location of a religious event in which a confirmed case took part and, if so, get tested.

The lack of trust makes this difficult, however. If Shincheonji believers disclose their name and national ID number, it’s very possible that everyone will come to know their religious inclinations. Accordingly, some sect members might fear disclosing their identity even more than COVID-19.

But what if there were a technological alternative that would allow people to share their movements and where they’ve been without disclosing sensitive information such as their name or religious affiliation? Blockchain could provide just such an alternative by giving individuals control over their data, by allowing data consumers to confirm that data hasn’t been tampered with and by breaking down centralized control over data.

As The Iconist noted last week, blockchain-powered services such as DID could also help contain outbreaks such as COVID-19 by reducing the need for person-to-person contacts in banking and other sectors. And DApps like the ICON-powered karaoke service SOMESING let us blow off steam from the relative safety of our own homes.


Also in the Korean cryptospace…

  • Samsung Partners With Israeli Fintech on Blockchain Solution for Merchants
    (By Jack Martin, Cointelegraph, March 4)
    Samsung SDS has joined hands with Israel-based fintech company Credorex to develop a payment platform for European merchants. Reports Cointelegraph, “One part of the proposed solution will be developed using Samsung SDS’ Nexledger Universal blockchain platform and will allow merchants to automatically reconcile payments, remittances and invoices with their bank records.”
  • South Korean Lawmakers Greenlight Strict Crypto AML Bill
    (By Danny Nelson, Coindesk, March 5)
    Like we reported last week, but in Coindesk, and with a cool quote. “‘If this passes in Korea, blockchain companies and cryptocurrency will officially be regulated but accepted in Korea. Bad news for scammy ICOs and exchanges. Good news for blockchain professionals in Korea,’ tweeted Doo Wan Nam, who works with MakerDAO.
  • This is how North Korea uses cutting-edge crypto money laundering to steal millions
    (By Mike Orcutt, MIT Technology Review, March 5)
    The recent indictment of two Chinese nationals by the U.S. Department of Justice is giving Washington a look into North Korea’s cryptocurrency laundering operations. It’s quite sophisticated. The operation also demonstrates how hard you need to work to use Bitcoin to fund activities not necessarily on the up-and-up.