It’s been a full month since the much anticipated ICON 2.0 mainnet launch and the ecosystem is taking form.

Some notable events so far include ICON’s entrance into the metaverse, the announcement of the ICY snapshot, the upgrade to ICON’s decentralized grant program, a leading South Korean presidential contender using ICON’s Craft Network to mint an NFT, and a whole lot of good news from ICON’s chief technology partner ICONLOOP, including the deployment of DID (and the ICON public chain) in a national vaccination certification service.

What can we look forward to regarding the expanding ICON ecosystem? Let’s take a look at exciting developments in four areas: BTP, DeFi, NFT and Community.

BTP and DeFi Ecosystem

Anyone interested in ICON knows that it’s an interoperability project. However, BTP (Blockchain Transmission Protocol) is the true gateway to achieving interoperability.

In a recent interview with Paul Barron, ICON strategist Scott Smiley said you could think of BTP as a web. He said, “If you deploy BTP smart contracts onto one network, it’s immediately connected to all other networks that have our BTP service integrated.” While BTP’s initial use case was for token transfers between networks, the architecture allows it to be applied to a multitude of use cases.

One immediate use case to come after BTP’s release relates to one of ICON’s premier DeFi platforms, Balanced. Balanced currently focuses on trading and staking ICON assets such as ICX, BALN and USDS. With BTP, token transfers between networks become possible. This means new trading pairs with networks on the ICON’s BTP ecosystem.

Of course, we also can’t forget ICE — an EVM compatible blockchain for the ICON community. Since Ethereum is still the number one blockchain network for dApps at the moment, the Ethereum compatibility that ICE brings will be a huge win for the ICON network.

So, why is an interoperability system like BTP important? Well, unlike some competing interoperability systems that result in “closed gardens,” BTP is “an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution that is relatively easy to implement on any existing blockchain.” But more broadly, interoperability both brings a potentially unlimited number of assets and services into ICON and allows ICON assets and services to flourish beyond the confines of ICON’s specific ecosystem.

For more information on the technical aspects of BTP compared to other interoperability solutions such as Cosmos and Polkadot, check out this post.

NFT Ecosystem

While most people think NFTs apply particularly to art (and pixel art in particular), the NFT space has grown much more creative and diverse.

For example, back in September, ICON partnered with Fandiem — a popular non-profit digital fundraising platform — to grow ICON’s NFT ecosystem. This partnership is expected to bring valuable NFTs in the form of experiences with artists, celebrities and athletes.

While Craft Network is the frequently mentioned NFT marketplace on ICON, another NFT marketplace — NFT Bazaar — also carries a large selection of NFTs at comparable prices. On NFT Bazaar, you’ll mainly find more economical NFTs (around five to 10 ICX) in the form of JPEG or audio. However, you can also find physical art NFTs. With the addition of BTP, people will have the ability to “exchange real-world physical assets with a maximum transferability of ownership.” Additionally, “NFTs from all other platforms will naturally gravitate towards the simplicity of having a single wallet and transacting across networks,” says Spartan Node, the team that created the market. This will certainly help strengthen the adoption of ICON.

Gaming is another NFT space in which we’ll see plenty of action. For example, joining existing games such as Project Nebula are exciting new NFT games like Supernode Racing and Wonderland.

Scott Smiley mentioned that the benefits of an expanding NFT ecosystem is the community it creates. And a strong community ultimately leads to the growth and adoption of ICON’s technology (which is what we all want).

Community Development Ecosystem

Continuing on the subject of a strong community, ICONLOOP — ICON’s chief tech partner — is playing a large role in expanding blockchain use cases. If you have been reading our articles in the past week or two, you would’ve seen ICONLOOP’s blockchain being used to make deliveries easier and to power a smart farm project. Most recently, ICONLOOP DID was adopted to make office access safer and even to power a COVID-19 vaccination certification service. ICON’s public chain was even put to use in some of these cases, at least to some degree.

To sum it all up, expansion of the BTP, NFT, and Community Development ecosystem are crucial for the immediate future of ICON as they will ultimately lead to an increase of adoption and use of ICON’s technology.