For the last few decades South Korea has emerged as a powerhouse and leader in new technologies. National champions like Samsung, LG, SKT, Naver, Kakao Talk and others have carved out places for themselves atop competitive, global markets.
The Korean public is wealthy by global standards and highly educated. The rapid development of Korea has installed a deep belief in progress and modernization. This has translated into a well-known powerhouse of tech. The relative late arrival of Korea on the global stage and the smaller size of the population, has given Koreans an unusual insight into global markets. Korea has all the makings of a tough but prescient audience, the ideal Sandbox.
The Korean public is unusually open to and adroit with new technologies. Korea regularly ranks among the top nations for Internet speed and penetration. Mobile Internet use penetration was over 90% heading into 2018. South Korea has 51 million citizens and 41 million monthly, mobile Internet users. K-Bank and KaKao Bank have led a dramatic shift to online banking in Korea as well. Virtually all Koreans engage in online banking, 95%. Fully 40% of financial transactions are mobile Internet based.
This has extended into Crypto where South Korea, again, has emerged as a leader.
Korea punches above its weight. Among traditional currencies, only the U.S. dollar was used more than the Korean Won to trade the major cryptocurrencies as of Jan. 11. The Won accounted for more than 10% of trades in Bitcoin for much of the second half of 2017. It was the No. 1 currency for transactions in Ethereum – the second largest digital token by market value – until late in the year. The Won’s role has declined recently, however, as regulators began to talk tough.
The sophistication and reach of Korean innovators and expertise drew our attention in the earliest iterations of the iCash project. We were fortunate to have long-standing and premiere access to thought leaders and key actors on this leading stage. Our President, Jonathan Malveaux, has spent 25 years traveling to and working in South Korea, and continues to spend a significant amount of time in Korea. We were able to build a network and expect to increase engagement over time.
We look forward to following a well-blazed path to global prominence through the South Korean sandbox. Our highest aim is to partner, at all stages, with thought leaders and charters of new and better paths forward.