Blockchain represents a new standard for the way information is shared and a host of companies such as telecom operator Korea Telecom (KT) and messaging apps Line and Telegram are working to determine how they can use the technology to save on costs and generate new revenue, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.
In South Korea, KT is taking an early lead with plans to launch a blockchain-powered data roaming service in May 2018. The carrier is cooperating with global network operators including Sprint and Japan’s SoftBank. In the long term, KT plans to use blockchain to power finance, IoT, smart energy and healthcare businesses.
Lynnette Luna, Principal Technology Analyst at GlobalData, says: “KT’s adoption of blockchain is likely to have a significant impact on the South Korean market as it dominates the local landline and broadband Internet market. KT sees revenue arising from enabling secure and efficient exchange of data among people and businesses and allowing people to control their own data. This is particularly attractive at a time when users are increasingly unhappy with how companies like Google control and exploit their information.”
In the OTT messaging market, Telegram and Kik are embarking on cryptocurrency strategies while Japan-based social messaging platform Line and Kakao are researching blockchain applications.
Line is set to launch a blockchain subsidiary – Unblock – in South Korea to study blockchain technology and determine how it can be applied into the various platforms of the company. Line will also make strategic investments in various blockchain projects outside of its own platform.
Luna adds: “Besides the US, Japan and South Korea are two of the most popular markets for cryptocurrency and blockchain. But, the market is still very young, and it’s unclear what Line’s foray into blockchain will look like.”
On the other hand, Telegram has raised a total of $1.7bn to build its own blockchain architecture Telegram Open Network (TON), host its currency Grams and compete with Mastercard and Visa. Telegram argues that scalability, ease of use and an engaged user base are all areas where it will have strength and where Bitcoin and other currencies are failing in their quest to become mainstream.
Luna concludes: “Telegram should consider a cryptocurrency strategy similar to rival Kik, which is starting smaller by targeting its own user base. Telegram needs to establish a firm foothold within its own ecosystem before venturing outside of it. In the case of telecom providers, they need to move forward with trial services on the public blockchain or risk being blindsided by a host of startups pushing the envelope on innovative services and compensation strategies.”