ICON and its main technology partner, ICONLOOP, are quietly carving out for themselves comfortable slices in several markets, including DeFi, NFTs, blockchain gaming and even the metaverse.
ICON’s cryptocurrency, ICX, has enjoyed periods of robust market performance, and has demonstrated an impressive resilience even during bear markets.
The growing mainstreaming of blockchain technology and digital assets presents considerable opportunities for growth for ICON, especially in its home market of Korea, where recent political changes are highly encouraging for the blockchain space. ICON’s emphasis on interoperability, and its existing network of highly placed clients in the public and corporate spheres, amplify these opportunities for expansion.
To begin with the basics, at the time of writing, ICX had a live market cap of USD 265,407,383, with a circulating supply of 919,483,096 ICX coins. The coin has consistently placed within or near the top 100 coins in market cap, which is no mean feat.
Like most alt coins, the price of ICX has fluctuated significantly with market conditions. Since 2021, it has spent most of the time over US 1, sometimes peaking as high as USD 3. This represented a considerable rebound from 2020, when it dropped as low as 10 cents in the depth of the last crypto winter.
While the current crypto crash has hit the price of ICX hard, if past history is anything to go by, the price should markedly improve when the market improves, particularly if the launch of BTP sparks significant increases in the demand of ICX.
ICON’s major DeFi platforms enjoy significant usage.
Balanced, for instance, has managed to lock up over USD 20 million in total value and earned over UDD 3.3 million in fees. As of the time of writing, it was providing 5.4 billion bnUSD — its stablecoin — in loans to 806 borrowers, against nearly 8.5 million in collateral.
At open money market OMM, users have supplied over USD 15.7 million in capital, with over USD 2.2 million borrowed. Optimus, too, has managed to lock up USD 3 million in total value.
Craft Network, ICON’s biggest NFT market with over 1,700 unique collections, is one of the world’s top 10 NFT markets in terms of 24-hour trading volume, with some USD 30,000 in trading as of the time of writing. At one point in February 2022, it had peaked at No. 3 worldwide. Overall, Craft has seen over USD 15 million in trades since August 2021, with a total market cap of USD 35 million and over 6,000 daily users.
On the gaming front, several of ICON’s games are generating significant usage. This is particularly the case with ICONbet, arguably ICON’s best performing App. The DAO casino has generated over USD 32,000 in transactions in the last week alone, and is responsible for a large chunk of ICON’s daily ICX usage.
Sports betting app ZenSports, meanwhile, is branching out both online and offline, having been approved for a non-restricted gaming license in Nevada, opening the way for it to acquire an off-line casino in the state. This gives ZenSports the physical presence required by the gaming board to operate its mobile sports betting platform in the state. It has also recently opened a metaverse service, ZenSportsia.
ICON has been taking steps to bolster its position in the growing metaverse sector. The CPS recently approved funding for Eclectica, a cross-chain metaverse for up to 100 concurrent users with full custom avatars. A working demo has already been launched.
ICON also has a partnership with leading metaverse builder RedFOX Labs. Last year, RedFOX Labs announced that ICON would be one of the first full-time residents of its retail and entertainment-focused virtual world RFOX VALT.
ICON and its chief technology partner, ICONLOOP, have major partners in government and large companies:
- ICONLOOP has partnered with Jeju Special Self-Government Provincial for several projects, most notably the Jeju Safety Code contact tracing app during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- ICONLOOP’s MyID DID solution is at work at two major South Korean banks: Shinhan Bank and NH Bank.
- ICONLOOP’s DID access authentication system is at work at POSCO Group base offices
- Public chain powered certification solution “broof” is used by leading Korean university POSTECH to issue diplomas.
- Mobile ID app Zzeung is used by Gangwon Province’s “Health Up” platform for managing chronic diseases
- ICONLOOP worked with Korea Communications Agency (KCA), Central Radio Management Service and National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives on ship safety service.
- In February 2019, the Seoul Metropolitan Government appointed members of its ‘Blockchain Governance Team’ using the ICON Network.
- One of South Korea’s biggest coffee shop franchises, Paul Bassett, used VisitMe to track Covid-19 contacts
Reasons for optimism
Globally, cryptocurrency and blockchain are achieving unprecedented levels of mainstream acceptance. According to Forbes earlier this year, 55 of the 100 largest financial institutions in the world are now investing in crypto and blockchain, and Coinbase has twice as many accounts as Charles Schwab. “Crypto is now a $2 trillion industry that has elbowed its way into the mainstream,” wrote Forbes. “Last weekend, there were six—six!—crypto-focused Super Bowl ads.”
Even in Korea — where policy makers and regulators had been lukewarm if not outright suspicious about digital assets — the winds are blowing in favor of digital assets.
In May of 2022, Yoon Suk-yeol took over as South Korea’s next president. Yoon ran on an openly pro-crypto platform. In particular, his plan to vitalize Korea’s cryptocurrency sector includes plans to gradually permit local ICOs, beginning with adopting methods to issue virtual assets with built-in investor protections.
The Yoon administration also plans to enact measures to protect consumers and promote safe transactions by regulating the issuing and listing of digital assets like NFTs and cryptocurrency. These measures should boost consumer and investor confidence in the blockchain and digital asset markets, helping serious companies such as ICON and its chief technology partner, ICONLOOP.
The shifting mood in Korea is also encouraging many of Korea’s biggest corporate entities and financial institutions to bet big on crypto, including the likes of SK, LG and Samsung. ICON and ICONLOOP already have existing relationships with major Korean companies such as POSCO and Shinhan Bank, not to mention important public entities, so increased corporate interest will likely present even more opportunities for business and investment.
Lastly, but certainly not least, the imminent release of the full version of BTP, ICON’s interoperability solution, could prove a watershed moment in the network’s history (as explained above). If the network makes good on its promise to unleash levels of interoperability previously unseen in the blockchain space, the sky’s the limit.