Creation of Korean Crypto Valley: Can Jeju Become Asia’s Malta?
Creation of Korean Crypto Valley: Can Jeju Become Asia’s Malta?
  • Raphael Rashid 기자
  • 승인 2018.07.24 16:15
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Jeju Island, the self-governing province located south-east of Korea’s mainland, is planning to revise its special law to include the designation of a ‘blockchain-regulated sandbox zone.’


Currently, the Korean government’s policy is that all initial coin offerings (ICOs) are prohibited. But that might no longer be the case on the resort island as attention is focusing on whether Jeju can become the “Crypto Valley of Asia.”


Governor’s Pledge: Creation of “Jeju Crypto Valley”


Jeju is a self-governing province: In 2006, Jeju was granted autonomy from the central government over decision making matters and policies except for diplomacy and defense under the Jeju Island Special Act.


The core of the revision to the special law is to allow ICOs and attract cryptocurrency exchanges to the island. The goal? Create a blockchain special zone which would surpass Silicon Valley.


This was one of the key election pledges made by re-elected Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong. During the local elections which took place in Korea in June, Won pledged to support start-ups and make a venture ecosystem through the creation a 200 billion won fund (approx. USD 176 million) over the next four years. The blockchain special zone was part of that pledge. He even announced plans to issue ‘Jeju Coins' through an ICO to raise funds for the region.


This is why the spotlight is on Jeju: can the island turn into a blockchain regional powerhouse like Malta or the Swiss city of Zug?


The Case of Malta


Malta is an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea with a population of just 430,000. It chose to promote technology to overcome the slump in the agricultural and manufacturing industries resulting from its small geographical area size.


On July 4, the Maltese Parliament unanimously approved three blockchain bills – the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act, the Innovative Technological Arrangement and Services Act, and the Virtual Financial Asset Act – making it one of the most favorable countries for ICOs and bringing the country one step closer to becoming a “blockchain island.”


As Malta opened its doors to the cryptocurrency market, the world's two largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance and OKEx, moved to Malta. As for Binance, it is currently in the process of setting up a blockchain-based bank called Founders Bank along with several other major investors. Its value is said to be around 130 million euros.


Jeju Crypto Valley: What Experts Say


Until now, major blockchain companies eyeing the Korean market have been reluctant due to the South Korean government’s current grip on the industry.


At the Blockchain Partners Summit 2018 held in Seoul on July 22, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said, “In order to enter the Korean market, we need a staged approach. I heard that Jeju’s government is trying to develop a Crypto Valley. I suggest to them to look at what Malta did lately,” potentially a sign of his interest in the Korean market.


GLOSFER CEO Taewon Kim also said, “Jeju is in a favorable position because the island is self-autonomous. If Jeju were to create a Crypto Valley, it would be able to overcome the current economic recession that it is facing,” while expressing hope of seeing potential rapid growth in the second half of 2018.


Meanwhile, Kim Hyung-joo, Chairman of the board of the Korea Blockchain Industry Promotion Association (KBIPA), said in a call with the Daily Token that “One of the best places to build a Crypto Valley in Korea is Jeju, owing to its legal independence and favorable conditions towards foreigners.”



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