South Korea’s Capital is developing its own cryptocurrency

The South Korean city of Seoul is developing its own cryptocurrency – the “S-Coin” – to be used in city-funded social benefits programs, says its mayor.

Mayor Park Won-soon announced the plan during an interview, where he also revealed that the city will create a fund to support the advancement of blockchain technology and related startups.

“As Seoul is the world’s leading city in the field of information and communications, including the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I think we should study new technologies such as blockchains,” he said.

Like Estonia, which is attempting to apply blockchain technology to all government administrative processes, Park thinks that the “blockchain can be applied to all bureaucratic administrations in Seoul, such as the public transport system system operated by Seoul City and the provision of youth allowance.”

Furthermore, Park indicated that the S-Coin could be used as a payment method for city-funded welfare programs for public employees, young jobseekers and citizens helping the environment by saving electricity, water and gas.

To get there, Park said the laws governing cryptocurrencies would need to be changed, adding that “in order to make an S-Coin, we need to prepare institutional and legal support such as bylaws,” he said. “I will try to change the various laws and regulations of the central government.”

Park also said he hopes to foster a blockchain ecosystem, adding:

“I’ve met blockchain companies, and I think our companies are not seeing the light because of the various regulations. Actually, [the] technology is as advanced as any other country. By creating clusters that will allow blockchain companies to build up, and startups to develop new technologies, we are working to develop and spread blockchain technology around the world.”

Stepping back, this scheme is part of a wider blockchain masterplan for Seoul, which the city expects to complete in April. In November of 2017, the city of Seoul hired Samsung SDS to help it establish an information strategy plan (ISP) for blockchain-based municipal innovation. It is the first city in Korea to create a roadmap for introducing the blockchain.

Regarding the Korean government’s strong regulatory policy on cryptocurrency, Park said, “The last time the Ministry of Justice announced regulatory measures, there was tremendous resistance, and the government seemed to think deeply about it.” He added that it is “the local government’s task to create cases and models.”

If the Seoul government can relax certain regulations, it could become easier to make these models, he suggested.