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S Korea: Companies, Exchanges in Flurry of Blockchain, Crypto Deals

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

Some of South Korea’s biggest companies are ramping up their blockchain-related activities – with financial institutions, crypto exchanges and blockchain ventures making bold moves.

Source: iStock/LeoPatrizi

One of the country’s biggest banks, KEB Hana, has filed a staggering 46 blockchain technology-related patents. Per Segye Ilbo, the patents cover a broad spectrum of potential blockchain applications, including solutions that would allow for both domestic and international customers to shop on international websites, smart contract-related developments and – perhaps most interesting of all for the crypto-community – providing blockchain-powered “digital asset”-related services.

KEB Hana was formed in 2015 when Hana Bank – one of the largest commercial banks in the country – merged with the Korea Exchange Bank, South Korea’s biggest overseas trading bank. The company is a member of the R3 CEV, Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum Alliance international blockchain consortiums.

Meanwhile, authorities in Busan – the second largest city in the country – have inked an memorandum of understanding with one of the financial arms of mega-conglomerate Hyundai. Busan’s deal with Hyundai Pay will seek to foster blockchain and fintech startups in the city, per Hankook Kyungjae, with private-public investment deals on the agenda as part of a deal that will run at least until 2021.

Hyundai Pay was formed in 2016 and has been involved in blockchain pretty much from its inception. The company has already overseen the construction of the Hdac platform and the HDAC cryptocurrency, as well as the Kasse cryptocurrency wallet.

Hyundai Commercial, the Hyundai Group’s corporate finance arm, is also working on blockchain-powered supply chain solutions in conjunction with IBM.

And market-leading cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has announced it will branch out into the Middle East. The company has signed a deal with Abu Dhabi-based company that will see it co-run an exchange in the United Arab Emirates.

According to Money Today, Bithumb has signed a memorandum of understanding with N-velop, a blockchain technology-focused venture company that is looking to expand to the entire MENA region. The media outlet quotes a Bithumb official as stating, “We hope this joint project will help us make a foray into the Middle East as well as the North African region – areas that have great potential for growth and market expansion.”

The same media outlet states that Bithumb is eyeing further expansion into the American market – and has also held talks with unnamed Russian companies.

Earlier this week, another major conglomerate, Kolon, was revealed to be targeting blockchain and cryptocurrency-related business expansion, while Tron also signed a deal with organizations representing South Korean blockchain and gaming companies.