Many internet users in Korea rejoiced last week when lawmakers amended the Digital Signature Act to finally end the use of often-frustrating and security-plagued online authorization certificates.

Writes the Korea Times:

One can hardly deny that the authentication system, since its launch in 1999, has contributed to the use of electronic administrative services, such as in issuing civil affairs documents and internet banking. However, its issuance procedure was cumbersome while the related plug-in service, ActiveX, could only be accessed using Microsoft Explorer, causing major inconveniences for users. Former President Park Geun-hye instructed her Cabinet to resolve the ActiveX problem, and President Moon Jae-in also vowed to abolish it during campaigns.

ActiveX has often been the target of hackers. As the official certificate authentication system enjoyed monopoly status, however, related industries had little motivation to invest in strengthening cyber security. Nor could consumers expect free competition in the certification market. The fact that it took the industry more than two decades to discontinue the system shows how difficult it is to break the vested interest built on a monopoly status and firmly fixed ‘path dependency.’”

With the old online authorization certificate blissfully being consigned to the dustbin of history, new online identification ecosystems are emerging.

Writes Business Korea:

“Once the certificate is discarded, mobile personal authentication, document issuance and administrative services become possible. In addition, IT companies can accelerate their efforts for innovative techniques such as mobile authentication, biometric authentication and blockchain-based authentication. According to market research firms, the global mobile biometric authentication market is expected to grow from US$2.6 billion to US$34.6 billion from 2015 to this year.”

Possible early leaders in this new space are South Korean internet giants Kakao and Naver and PASS, a certificate system launched by the country’s three major mobile carriers. But blockchain-powered DID solutions are also a strong contender. In TheNews.Asia, Brian Newar points to one DID solution in particular:

“DID has become such a hot topic in the South Korean tech and blockchain scenes that ICON, one of the largest domestic blockchain companies, started the MyID Alliance with the explicit goal of integrating DID via blockchain in as many services across the country as possible.

The alliance is heavily funded and so far has the right partnerships to make their goal of maximum DID services integration a real possibility by as early as 2021, according to their roadmap. Without a product yet for demo it’s hard to say exactly how their version of DID would work. It can be said that they are rather ambitious in expecting crypto exchanges, banks, and online shops to all use the same DID service on their respective platforms.”

DID solutions carry the distinct advantage of granting individual users sovereignty over their own online identity and data, too.

Also in the Korean blockchain space…

(By Ledger Insights, May 23)

The managing partner of Sequoia Capital in China proposed in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference the creation of a cross-border digital stablecoin in Hong Kong that is a basket currency made up of the Chinese renminbi, Japanese yen, Korean won and Hong Kong dollar.The purpose would be for cross border trade, initially in a Hong Kong regulatory sandbox,” writes Ledger Insights.An indirect effect would be the reduction in the use of the U.S. dollar.”

(By Ed Drake, CoinGeek, May 23)

CoinGeek notes that the Bank of Korea has joined many other of the world’s central banks in taking an interest in CBDCs.  A recent report by the BOKunderlines the progress being made internationally by central banks towards launching their own digital currencies, which is expected to usher in a new era of mainstream adoption of blockchain technology for payments worldwide.”

(By Felipe Erazo, CoinTelegraph, May 23)

Daegu’s Suseong University has joined hands with the Korea Artificial Intelligence Association to create a blockchain and AI campus in Daegu. The department plans to teach AI, blockchain, big data, and cloud-based technology. Kim Kun-woo, director of the Planning and Coordination Division of the university, said the COVID-19 outbreak has prompted the world to move towards a blockchain and AI-based society.