Highlights From “Icon & the Future of Crypto Investments” — VegaX Digital Asset Education Series
Min provides insight on ICON Foundation, how he got involved in the crypto space, and what he is most excited about regarding the future of crypto investments. You can revisit and replay the recording of the webinar series by clicking on the link below.
For a summary of the webinar discussion, keep reading!
As always, please reach out to us with questions, comments, and suggestions for topics/speakers for our Digital Asset Education series!
About Min Kim, Founder of Icon
During Min’s professional career, he has started his own e-commerce business, worked in social, mobile, and digital publishing of webcomics and web novels, and worked as Chief Strategy Officer of a large fintech holdings company. One of the twenty companies under the corporate umbrella of the fintech holdings company was a cryptocurrency exchange which led Min to learn more about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
When asked how he transitioned from working in fintech to building a respected blockchain and crypto conglomerate, Min stated,
“I’d heard about blockchain and bitcoin living in San Francisco since I started my professional career. I didn’t really get into it early, I wish I had. I think we all wish that we had gotten into it earlier. I was always interested in technology but really never looked into bitcoin. It’s one of my biggest regrets. I heard about bitcoin back in 2010 but never understood it. In 2015 I had the opportunity to go to Korea to work with a team to start a fintech holding company. We raised 800 million dollars in equity. We acquired a bunch of fintech companies and tried to roll them up into a big conglomerate.
We tried to solely focus on fintech and partnering with banks in Korea to provide services. One was a crypto exchange, and the more I dug in I learned about the blockchain technology behind it and realized this could revolutionize the financial industry. I convinced our execs to start research and development in blockchain.
Long story short we started putting together teams, seminars for our partners, a lot of them started getting more interested. This slowly led to internally thinking, there’s this whole thing with public blockchains and it’s interesting, creating new businesses, and we thought, we also need to get into this. That’s how the Icon public blockchain project came to be.”
One of the core theses of Icon was cross chains, interchain operability. Some may disagree. We call them the maximalists. They think about bitcoin or ethereum only. Maximalists are crazy. I look at it as a tech use case. There doesn’t only need to be one like they say. There is always something that can be improved. What is the thesis for interoperability from Icon’s perspective?
“In the world, there are many countries. They all have different rules. Businesses thrive in different environments. The U.S. for example has its own system for business and regulation and it has been very successful as a center of innovation and attracted immigrants from all over to build businesses there. But Korea is a small country. Our geography is small too, but Korea strives with the small number of resources it has. There are pros and cons of both nations. You can’t say one is better just because of GDP size.
Digital nations are the same concept. Icon would like to be the biggest of all blockchains, but that’s not our goal. We want to have our own governance and community. We will create tech that is interoperable with Ethereum, Cosmos, and other blockchains. I believe every blockchain can co-exist and be unique in its own way.”
Can you talk about Icon’s experience with decentralizing and what benefits it has for the network?
“So I think decentralization is a goal of every blockchain network. If it’s not it should be because that is the ethos of our industry. We create features to allow many people and individuals to be participants in the growth of the ecosystem through decision making. What’s very interesting about Icon is that we reflect how democracy works in the U.S. Every token holder is a voter. They can delegate their vote, their ICX, to a representative, and that representative is supposed to work on behalf of the community. We want to decentralize it further by allowing these representatives to use public funds for projects that benefit the network.
In the Icon ecosystem, we call this the Contribution Proposal System. The Contribution Proposal System works similarly to the real world. The government collects taxes and those taxes are supposed to be used for the benefit of the country or the nation. All of this is automated. Blockchain rewards are reinvested by the representatives into the ecosystem. We allocate about ⅓ of inflation into a pool managed by representatives.”
What is Icon working on in DeFi, and what is your take on DeFi? Should regular investors be allocating capital into it? What are your thoughts on that?
“Before I jump into DeFi, we all know products like lending club or SoFi, where P2P lending or investments have been one of the bright spots of Fintech over the years. Although those were considered amazing innovations back in the day, these products have to be tied to a financial institution, you have to have permission. It wasn’t true P2P because of intermediaries. DeFi is a level above these P2P marketplaces. It’s a true peer to peer without intermediaries, with smart contracts instead of traditional contracts through incentivization and token economics. Everything is transparent so it’s a very open financial system.
Icon foundation does not alone participate in creating these new technologies, we support them, but we are not the primary drivers of DeFi. We are a tech provider, we provide the platform and create features of the smart contract that empowers entrepreneurs to build on top of our network. Currently, we have several projects that are coming out in the DeFi space.
One is a product called Bridge. Bridge is a gateway to being able to easily convert fiat currency into a stablecoin so that it could be used in different DeFi products that will be on the Icon network.
In a lot of these DeFi products that are used today, there’s no direct connection to a fiat currency, you have to go through an exchange by stablecoin or cryptocurrencies to be sent into MetaMask. There’s a big learning curve, and you want to be able to mitigate that. Bridge is going to be a decentralized wallet but it will have the capability of linking your bank account directly so that it can be used and you can participate in DeFi products.
We have a project called Balanced Network which is similar to MakerDAO, where it uses collateral from debt position in creating a stable coin. However, MakerDAO may have to do what we are doing in the future, because Ethereum wasn’t a proof of stake network before, there wasn’t a staking mechanism. In the Icon ecosystem, there are staking rewards that you receive. In early discussions in the community, there was a reluctance to use MakerDAO since you have to choose between earning staking rewards or becoming part of the MakerDAO ecosystem. Now the Balance Network has created a new structure where you can deposit your token ICX into Balance and create a stablecoin, but at the same time, the deposits will continue to accrue staking rewards.
We have a project I am currently working on in the U.S. that is a real estate token and as you know there were a lot of talks a couple of years ago around security tokens. Everyone thought security tokens were going to be huge but it never became reality. However, I do believe that security tokens will be the future, and that’s one of my passions; how do you move real assets into a token? The answer to that is you have to create a security token and I want to be able to connect security tokens and use them with DeFi tools.”
What is your advice for members of our audience who are new to the crypto space? How do they get involved with Icon, how should they get involved with crypto?
“I always tell my friends that are new to this space to create an account with one of the larger exchanges like Kraken, or Coinbase. Purchase bitcoin and hold it for a long time. You will see the volatility, don’t get too frightened. Put just a small percentage of your assets into a digital currency. Icon is something that is even more volatile. Getting into alt-coins takes a lot more patience. The investment horizon is much longer, so if you want to get involved, you should come check out the Icon project and the information on our website, iconrepublic.org. The website is run by our community. Our mission is to build a new digital economy where people can build new businesses.”
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Icon Foundation: https://icon.foundation/
Icon is a blockchain protocol for decentralized applications and interoperability. The Icon project is in the process of building one of the largest decentralized networks in the world, with the goal of hyper connecting the world. The Icon Network includes the Seoul Government, Samsung, LINE, and many of the world’s largest corporations. A number of cryptocurrency and DeFi projects have also built on top of the Icon Network. Icon is one of the leading projects in the crypto space and is a leader in decentralized innovation.
VegaX Holdings: https://vegaxholdings.com/
VegaX Holdings is the “BlackRock” of the Crypto Asset Industry. We provide investors globally with one-stop access to sophisticated and secure crypto asset management. The asset management industry is the largest in the world representing more than $80 trillion dollars in investments through investment products like ETFs, mutual funds, and indices that outperform investments in individual stocks. VegaX is the first to create similar investment products for Crypto providing investors outperformance versus buying individual cryptocurrencies. On average, investors buying VegaX products make 30% more profit versus just holding Bitcoin.
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