The Korea Herald


Kakao opens blockchain units in Singapore, eyes expansion overseas

By Kang Jae-eun

Published : Aug. 16, 2021 - 15:03

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(Klaytn Network official homepage) (Klaytn Network official homepage)

Kakao Group, which operates messenger app KakaoTalk, has established two new blockchain entities in Singapore in an effort to expand its blockchain platform abroad and chase after its biggest competitor, Naver.

According to local media reports Monday, Kakao recently founded the nonprofit Klaytn Foundation and global accelerator unit Krust in the city-state.

With the two at the forefront, the South Korean internet giant will pursue the globalization of its public blockchain project, Klaytn, from Singapore.

Formerly, the project was led by Seoul-based Kakao affiliate Ground X, which in 2018 developed the open (public) blockchain platform and the digital currency KLAY.

The foundation, in announcing its official launch Aug. 10, said: “We will expand the Klaytn World - more proactively and systematically. We will actively invest our human as well as financial resources in developers and businesses of the blockchain world to accelerate the growth of our ecosystem and the development of our technology.”

Kakao, which began in 2010 with its messaging app, has expanded into a variety of business areas including banking, entertainment, shopping, content and media. Blockchain is one of the group’s two priorities in its global expansion strategy, called “Kakao 3.0,” with the other being content.

Indicative of the weight being thrown behind the Singapore ventures, the group has placed key figures in leadership roles there.

Song Ji-ho, one of Kakao’s founding members, will take the chief executive position at Krust. Others such as former Chief Strategy Officer Kang Joon-yeol and former Chief Technology Officer Shin Jeong-hwan are expected to join the new blockchain project.

The group plans to invest $300 million in relevant startups and developers to expand the Klaytn platform globally. It has also established a “Klaytn improvement reserve” to support the infrastructure and services needed to maintain its blockchain ecosystem.

Kakao has secured 32 foreign and domestic companies for the Klaytn Governance Council, which will make decisions about Klaytn and the blockchain ecosystem it is building. All of the companies are also pursuing blockchain projects in their respective businesses areas.

SK Networks, Amorepacific and the biggest commercial bank in the Philippines, Union Bank, are said to have joined the council as well.

The blockchain race is expected to heat up even more as Kakao tries to catch up with portal giant Naver, which has already expanded its Line Blockchain ecosystem in Japan and Southeast Asia.

The two companies also went head on in July for the chance to develop a pilot digital currency for the Bank of Korea. Kakao was chosen.