Geyongsangbuk-do (also known as Geyongbuk), a province on the eastern coast of South Korea, has announced efforts to replace its local currencies with a state-issued cryptocurrency. The plans were reported by local news source Joongang Ilbo.
The province is also planning to create an exchange where Geyongbuk coins can be bought and sold. Participating merchants will then be able to accept the cryptocurrencies using QR codes.
The local currencies that the province is attempting to replace are city-issued gift certificates that are currently produced by nine municipalities. The gift certificates were initially developed as part of an effort to revitalize local economies, and can be used in selected locations within the province. Pohang city has issued the most of these gift certificates — daily newspaper Kyongbuk reported that the city had sold $90 million worth of the gift certificates since January of 2017.
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”Still Many Issues to Be Resolved”
Of course, “there are still many issues to be resolved,” said Chung Sung-hyun, the head of the province’s Science and Technology Policy Department. Merchants would need to be educated about how the coins would work, and the provincial government would need to issue the coins in the first place.
Still, efforts are underway. A 10-person benchmarking team from the province recently visited Zug, Switzerland, where they met with a number of local businesses and officials. Zug is home to a number of high-profile crypto firms, and has developed its local laws to be crypto-friendly.
The South Korean Crypto Industry Moves Forward
One official on the team said that the meetings had inspired additional possible use cases for blockchain in Gyeongbuk. “I think we can utilize the experience gained through benchmarking by making the identity cards for 5,000 Gyeongbuk provincial government employees like Zug as blockchain-based digital ID cards.”
The cryptocurrency industry in South Korea remains fairly healthy in spite of rumoured exchange bans earlier this year and a multi-million dollar hack of the Bithumb exchange in June. The South Korean government legalized Bitcoin as a remittance payment in June, a move that spurred industry growth within the country. CoinTelegraph reported that South Korean exchanges processed 14 percent of global Bitcoin trades in July.