South Korea’s dominant message-app operator is considering a private placement next month to raise funds from partners interested in helping to build its crypto platform.
Ground X Corp., a blockchain subsidiary of Kakao Corp., may initially seek capital and business alliances with consumer-service companies, Jason Han, the unit’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. Ground X is targeting firms that, like Kakao, have internet or mobile services that could be offered over a blockchain platform, he said. Plans are still subject to change, Han said.
Kakao set up Ground X in Tokyo in March as the South Korean company sought to jump on the blockchain bandwagon, aiming to build a platform in Asia powered by the technology that can take on the likes of Ethereum. Kakao, whose popular chat app has 50 million monthly users predominantly in South Korea, hopes to use this to expand its business overseas.
Ground X plans to launch a test version in September and start the blockchain platform by the end of the year, Han said. The goal is to make blockchain more accessible to people who aren’t experts in the technology, he said. That will be made possible by cooperating with companies running consumer applications that are already widely used for content-sharing and gaming, for example, Han said.
“The biggest problem with blockchain right now is that there isn’t a single service that an average person would use,” Han said in an interview at Ground X’s newly built office in Tokyo. “Our services are going to be more practical.”
Kakao is far from a frontrunner when it comes to blockchain. Many others have already started to explore the technology, while some firms have seen their stock price surge just because they put the word blockchain in their names.
Some commentators say blockchain has the potential to be much more influential than cryptocurrencies themselves.
Han says he envisages Ground X having services like Steemit, a blogging and social networking service where people get monetary rewards in cryptocurrency.
Any service where a participant can publish original content and be compensated for it is a good fit
for a blockchain platform, he said.
Kakao’s service will be more user-friendly than those such as Ethereum, according to Han. The Ethereum Foundation wasn’t immediately available to comment.