(INTERVIEW) Kakao’s blockchain service wing focuses on globalization of NFT art market service

[Courtesy of Ground X]

SEOUL — The blockchain service wing of South Korean web services giant Kakao dreams of becoming a global leader in offering artworks and various intellectual properties, including motions and webtoons as tokens non-fungible, after its business related to Klaytn, a public blockchain platform, moved to a Singapore-based overseas branch.

There was no clear answer as to whether the change in Ground X’s business structure is designed to find a place with fewer regulations than the home market for Klaytn’s rapid activation. Or he’s really more interested in a non-fungible token service (NFT).

Blockchain is a decentralized service that shares replicated and synchronized data distributed geographically across multiple servers operated by countries or organizations. Each virtual ledger functions as an audit tool, making it nearly impossible to hack or manipulate. NFT can represent a single digital file such as art, audio, video, and video game item. It is authenticated using a blockchain platform and provides proof of ownership.

Ground X has developed blockchain products that allow individuals and businesses to issue and trade digital assets via blockchain, focusing on the convenience of a popularized blockchain-based service to build applications which can actually be used by ordinary users. Klaytn will be aggressively developed and operated through its Singapore-based subsidiary, Krust.

“Independent business operations are necessary to target the global market,” CEO Han Jae-sun said in an interview with Aju Business Daily. As Klaytn will eventually be run by a decentralized foundation, Han’s short-term goal is to put his heart and soul into Klip Drops, an NFT art marketplace service that provides a space to exchange works or digital goods via cryptocurrency.

“Our goal is to become a global NFT leader,” Han said, promising to offer domestic artwork as well as various IPs and content such as movies and webtoons in 2022. “We will actively target markets Starting with Southeast Asia, we are going to be knocking on doors in North American and European markets.”

Groud X has chosen an ‘all-inclusive’ strategy,” Han said, suggesting that NFTs will emerge as a highly competitive killer app. Previously, the company only released digital works by top Korean artists as NFT, but Han changed his mind to introduce products from luxury brand enterprises and products owned or created by celebrities as NFTs.In the first half of this year, a virtual NFT gallery will be built in the form of a website where artworks can be enjoyed and purchased in the metaverse space introduced to select writers to showcase high-quality NFT works.

“It is significant to enter the global market with the domestic art community. We will show Korean strength overseas with them,” Han said. “The status of K-art is amazing. Real works such as monochrome paintings are already popular overseas. As such, South Korea has strong content. There is nothing that NFT cannot To do.”

[Courtesy of Ground X]

The domestic art market experienced an unprecedented boom in 2021 with the influx of a large number of MZ generations. “Since last year, the MZ generation collectors in the art market began to buy paintings to invest in the arts, and activated the market a lot. Meanwhile, some customers turn to the market NFTs, showing a two-way virtuous circle,” Han said, predicting a new trend in the NFT art market as assets with fluctuating values ​​appear as NFTs.

“The Klip Drops service will be further enhanced with Kakao’s strength in content. We will transform various contents and IP addresses owned by Kakao into NFT and publish them through Klip Drops,” Han said. Ground X likely gained confidence on January 12, when hundreds of short animated scenes from Solo Leveling, the webtoon version of a web novel serialized on Kakao’s digital comics and fiction platform in 2016, were quickly sold via Klip Drops to earn a total of 117 million won (USD98,623) in the first case of selling Kakao content as NFT.

Unlike other services that focus on collecting, Groud X hopes to sell culture, not just trade. “Copyright issues can arise between writers and buyers, and Klip Drops essentially signs a transfer agreement between them. With this, artists can securely protect their work and clarify their rights to buyers,” Han said.

The main hurdle that Ground X has to overcome is how to secure the dispensing currency. Ground X would help domestic users purchase NFTs with plastic cards in the first quarter of 2022, followed by payment with Ethereum, a decentralized and open source blockchain with smart contract functionality, or tokens from others overseas blockchain platforms. The sale of Klip Drops works will be possible on other blockchain platforms.

There is a strong demand for purchasing artwork with cash. To invite people who have never purchased virtual assets. Han thinks cash payment should be allowed for those who want to buy paintings by well-known artists in the mainstream art market. People who have experience with virtual assets buy images to invest, while those who have no experience have a strong identity as collectors.

People can enjoy and appreciate the artworks through offline exhibits, virtual galleries in the metaverse world, and physical devices like screens. In South Korea, a growing number of companies have displayed NFTs in the lobby of their office building. Enjoying works through a metaverse platform is not very difficult technically, but it will take some time for people to get used to it.

(This story is based on an interview in Korean by Aju Business Daily reporter Choi Eun-jong.)

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