2) A culture of innovation. According to Bloomberg, South Korea leads the way in the world’s most innovative economies. While the country started off by reverse-engineering foreign technology, that rapidly led to improving on these technologies.
Today the country is now a global technology powerhouse, investing heavily in R&D and new patents. The terrific Samsung phone that’s in my pocket is just one proof point of the country’s commitment to technology innovation.
3) An emphasis on education. Higher education is an extremely serious issue in South Korean culture (some students would say too serious). It is a point of national pride, with the South Korean education system widely praised around the world.
The country’s enormous education budget is a big success factor in how it has risen from a war-torn country to a tech powerhouse: a highly-educated workforce means that South Korean workers are in high demand, especially in new technologies like blockchain.
4) A national blockchain curriculum. Building on this commitment to education, the South Korean government has invested 100 billion won (about $90 million) into blockchain-focused training, creating a pipeline of talent for the next decade.
This is a page out of New York’s playbook: during the 1990s, the city invested heavily in tech education, partnering with New York schools and universities to develop a technology curriculum, training workers to make it a global technology leader.
5) A forward-thinking government. A Korean proverb says, “If you don’t walk today, you will have to run tomorrow.” In other words, get started early.
To this end, the government of South Korea invests heavily in R&D and emerging technologies. This year alone, nearly $1 billion has been earmarked to spend on blockchain development, with the city of Seoul also developing a blockchain incubator with room for 200 companies.
6) Regulatory sandboxes. Busan, the second-largest city in South Korea, has been declared a “regulation-free zone” for blockchain startups, making it easier for entrepreneurs and investors to freely build blockchain businesses.
Government officials expect that $25 million in investment will follow, with everyone from Korean banks to Hyundai experimenting with blockchain projects. This type of “regulatory sandbox” is an emerging model in South Korea, and it allows innovation to flourish.
7) Seoul reward token. The city government of Seoul is creating a citizen reward token (we’ll call them S-coins) that can be redeemed for goods and services within the city. It’s like an “in-game currency” that will let you pay for your food, parking, or transportation with S-coins.
Importantly, Seoul does not plan to charge merchant commissions when citizens pay with S-coins. As a small business owner, it offers the convenience of credit card or mobile payments, but with zero fees. Officials hope this will make S-coin, and thus the city of Seoul, prosper.
8) Blockchain tax breaks. Another way the government encourages early-stage R&D is providing tax incentives for experimenting with new technologies. Businesses that develop blockchain technology can get a 20-40% tax deduction for their pioneering work.