Korean Government-Backed Researchers File for Blockchain Patent

A South Korean government-funded organization has submitted a blockchain-related patent application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), public documents show.

The application, which was submitted by the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) on January 10 of this year, details a blockchain-powered system for managing data that belongs to public organizations.

More specifically, the system, fueled by a number of servers, would record the financial transaction history of a public organization on a blockchain. To boost the system's reliability, a third-party server is also introduced to the structure as it does «a mathematical operation.»

At the heart of the concept is an effort to boost transparency around information tied to public organizations.

As the application explains:

«An income history or an expenditures history of the public organizations that enforce the national budget and non-profit organizations that raise donations needs to be transparently managed. However, even though there are many possibilities that the server may be attacked or manipulated/tampered internally, it is difficult for ordinary citizens or donors to know the income history and the expenditures history of public organizations.»

Alongside the U.S. patent, ETRI submitted a similar application to the Korean Intellectual Property Office in January 2017.

The application is a notable example of a government-funded organization moving to obtain patent rights around an application of blockchain.

ETRI, according to its official site, was founded in 1976 and is one of the most elite research organizations in the field of telecommunication in South Korea. It's also an active patent-seeker, its published data shows, with more than 10,000 patent applications submitted thus far.

Korea's Exchange Hacks: What the Country's Crypto Scene Is Saying

The past two weeks have seen two South Korean exchanges get attacked and robbed, sparking commentary and critique among the country's local cryptocurrency community.

It began with the Coinrail hack on June 9. At the time, the popular South Korean cryptocurrency exchange tentatively announced a «cyber intrusion» that saw the loss of $40 million worth of cryptocurrencies.

The exact number and amount of tokens taken from the exchange have yet to be confirmed by the company itself, though a third-party firm assisting Coinrail gave a few estimates in a blog post the following day.

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Meet Kakao: How Korea's Largest Mobile Giant Is Embracing Blockchain

Both proponents and opponents of new technology tend to come up with extreme (or overly romantic) theories about it.

This was certainly the case for bitcoin and the debate about whether the world's first cryptocurrency would replace all global currencies. However, this tendency may also underly the seeming contradiction that large corporations, which typically exert centralized control over a product or service, are embracing new decentralized technologies such as blockchain and the token economy.

Kakao is a corporate giant that dominates the Korean mobile market. Its mobile messaging app Kakaotalk accounts for 94 percent of the domestic market. Based on this overwhelming market share, Kakao has successfully expanded its operations into markets such as advertising, gaming, mobile banking, taxi services and music.

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