Slowly but Surely
by Manny Im
“You can’t separate blockchain technology and cryptocurrency… separating the two will be the same as forcing the front wheels of a car to go forward and the rear wheels to go backwards… Regulations need to be softened and ICOs must be allowed.”
“Blockchain technology is a type of innovative growth… The transparency and efficiency of blockchain technology can benefit politics as well… It is now time for the government to implement a regulatory sandbox, supporting, instead of restricting growth.”
The two quotes above were made by Lee Hye-hoon (Bareun Mirae Party) and Song Hee-kyoung (Liberty Korea Party) respectively, during the “World Blockchain Summit Marvels Seoul ’18.”
Innovation vs. Speculation
As many of you are well aware, Korea became a major hub of cryptocurrency after a feverish growth in late 2017. In fact, it grew at such an alarming pace that the government had to impose limiting regulations, such as disallowing anonymous accounts from trading cryptocurrencies. With the government being more involved and requiring tighter obligations, the uncertainty of cryptocurrency led many to walk away. The obvious downside to this was the fact that blockchain technology, with its inseverable ties to cryptocurrency, was viewed not as innovation, but as speculation.
Now, it seems that the countless benefits that blockchain technology can bring to all areas of life has finally caught the attention of lawmakers in Korea. In addition to the Members of the Assembly, current and former members of government institutions such as the Department of Commerce & Industry and the Ministry of Science & Technology, joined in voicing their support for easing regulations on the blockchain industry (I don’t intend to discuss politics, but it was definitely interesting to see members of the minority party agreeing to support something that they had previously zealously berated).
During the Summit, Alexis Sirkia, founder of Ripple and CEO of Yellow.com, mentioned in his keynote address how the steam engine took 8 years to be commercialized during the 2nd industrial revolution. He spoke about how blockchain technology may be taking the same path the steam engine took when it was shunned and overlooked before it became fully commercialized.
Those who have an interest in history can probably bring up similar examples. I personally think first of the dot-com bubble. In fact, Lou Kerner, a CryptoOracle partner, mentioned in his interview with CNBC last month that the dot-com bubble led to many companies failing, but those that differentiated themselves through services and technology managed to survive. He then took Amazon as an example. Amazon lost over 95 percent of its valuation over two years, but now has a stock valuation of more than $1 trillion.
I think we are in a similar situation today. The initial bubble burst in quite a spectacular way, leading to volatility, uncertainty, and skepticism. However, there are many out there who are slowly making progress, differentiating themselves from others in the form of games, payment systems, AR/VR, art, banking, enterprise infrastructures, and so forth. Of course there’s no certainty on who’s going to make it in the long run, but I believe that the collective effort of those who are investing their lives into the future of blockchain technology and those in power who are working to create an innovator-friendly environment will lead to a successful commercialization of blockchain technology in the near future.
I’d like to conclude by quoting Amara’s Law for those who are in this for the long-run. He allows room for optimism but keeps it in check, encouraging what some call rational optimism: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”