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S Korean Province Mulls Local Stablecoin-powered Universal Basic Income

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

The Governor of Gyeonggi Province, South Korea’s most populous province, has suggested launching a universal basic income – funded by local stablecoins.

Typical Korean street food. Source: Adobe/galitskaya

Per OhMyNews, the proposal, spearheaded by Lee Jae-myung, who was elected Governor of Gyeonggi Province in 2018, is part of a package of measures aimed at stimulating the province’s economy.

Gyeonggi is South Korea’s industrial and commercial backbone, and comprises a number of tech hub cities, including Seongnam and Suwon, as well as the country’s third-biggest city, Incheon. After years of meteoric growth, the area is now facing its first significant economic slowdown since the late 1980s.

The region is also the home of a number of the country’s largest-scale local stablecoin projects, most notably those in Gimpo, Seongnam and Siheung. Back in March, Gyeonggi officials expressed their desire to expand the reach of all three projects in a bid to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, and hand out emergency economic stimulation handouts in the three tokens. The stablecoins make use of QR codes and smartphone-based wallets.

However, Lee’s new proposals would look to go a step further.

Lee’s provincial government has already pioneered a form of basic income payments to rural communities – claiming it is the first local government in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to do so.

And as part of post-coronavirus pandemic economic stimulus packages, Gyeonggi now wants to push ahead with plans for a universal basic income (UBI) rollout that would make use of existing or new stablecoins in place of fiat.

Regardless, the province is set to issue some USD 1 billion worth of tokens this year, double the amount it issued last year. Per a province-wide survey, 68% of Gyeonggi residents and 63% of companies based in the province said they approved of existing stablecoin projects this year.

The province would likely need central government approval for a project of this scale, but Seoul has previously indicated that it is prepared to weigh up the arguments for a UBI – with debates on the feasibility of UBI issuance slated for later this year.

Learn more: Could Blockchain Really Enable ‘Data As a Universal Basic Income’?