[THE INVESTOR] JEJU ISLAND -- Why is a big company like Kakao jumping into blockchain? This is a frequent question Ground X CEO Jason Han gets since he took the helm of Kakao’s blockchain venture that was launched in Japan in March.
“We are always searching ways for business expansion. If you enter a new sector or a new market, you must have your own competitiveness and for Kakao blockchain is a new weapon,” he said on Sept. 13 during the Upbit Developer Conference held on Jeju Island by Dunamu, operator of the nation’s largest crypto exchange Upbit.
Kakao Ventures, Kakao’s venture capital unit, owns a 23 percent stake in Dunamu even though the two firms try to distance themselves from each other possibly due to the government’s increased scrutiny against speculative crypto trading and especially tougher control of exchanges.
Ground X CEO Jason Han
Ground X plans to launch its own blockchain platform, called Klaytn, next year, possibly along with the token Klay. Before the official debut, the firm will unveil the testnet in October, luring developers and tech firms to join the eco-system.
“Klay is not a crypto coin that can be traded at exchanges. It is a token for developers to better use the platform,” the CEO said, reaffirming Kakao has no immediate plans for its own initial coin offering.
He stressed only the mass-market adoption would help blockchain reach a tipping point and that’s the Klaytn platform’s ultimate goal.
“Currently, decentralized apps running on blockchain are mostly targeting crypto-related services. We will help develop blockchain services that can be easily embraced by all users, including those who have never experienced cryptocurrencies before,” he said.
“Decentralization will come in phases. But if there’s no clear benefit for users, it’s meaningless.”
He added that bigger firms like Kakao would not hurry to incorporate blockchain into their existing services any time soon, citing the Klaytn platform’s “hybrid structure” that’s easier and more flexible to adopt.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com)