Earlier today, ICON Foundation revealed that they have signed an MOU with SK-Planet to “work together to create new customer values and business opportunities by linking ICON’s blockchain technology with Korea’s leading mobile services.” This news comes just four months after ICONLOOP’s announcement regarding implementation of its CHAIN ID authentication system into Samsung Pass. Together, these two developments suggest that ICON is absolutely dominating the blockchain mobile services niche in South Korea.
What is SK-Planet?
SK-Planet is a subsidiary of SK Telecom, Korea’s leading wireless telecommunications operator with a staggering 48% market share. Similarly, SK Telecom is a subsidiary of SK Group, Korea’s third largest conglomerate with over $170 billion in assets. SK-Planet currently has operations in eight countries including Korea, Japan, China, and the USA, and focuses on e-commerce, online-to-offline services, and digital marketing. Two of SK-Planet’s most notable services are OK Cashbag and Syrup, both of which were mentioned in ICON’s announcement.
Since it’s launch in 1999, OK Cashbag has become Korea’s largest points-based loyalty program with more than 38 million subscribers. Points earned through the program can be used to redeem goods, services, and discounts from over 60,000 merchants nationwide. In an interview earlier this year, OK Cashbag revealed they were actively exploring blockchain technology and tokenization of loyalty points. Since loyalty points are pegged to the Korean Won, the company was looking into creating a stablecoin dubbed OCX. At the time, SK-Planet did not share any specific details about their platform of choice, but today’s announcement suggests they have been in talks with ICON to build products on the ICON network.
Similar to Naver’s LINE which has associated services like LINE Taxi, LINE, Delima, and LINE Pay, Syrup is one of Korea’s most popular consumer software suites. The Syrup suite is comprised of Gifticon, Syrup Wallet, Syrup Table, Syrup Style, and Syrup Pay.
Gifticon, which coincidentally contains “ICON,” is a popular mobile voucher service that allows users to purchase and send product-specific gift vouchers to friends and family. Upon receipt, the voucher can be exchanged for the product at a physical store.
Syrup Wallet is a mobile wallet service that uses location-based technologies to curate shopping benefits, discounts, and promotions for users. Syrup Wallet also serves as a digital wallet for membership cards from hundreds of brands.
Syrup Table is a mobile app that curates crowd-sourced restaurant reviews and provides discounts to nearby restaurants. The app can also be used to pre-order food prior to arriving at a restaurant.
Syrup Style is a mobile app that curates apparel, shoes, handbags, accessories, and more. Through the app, users can purchase items for delivery or local pickup at a physical location.
Syrup Pay is a payment processing service that enables users to store credit card or bank account info to pay for services. To transact, the user simply enters a password instead of manually inputting payment details.
What is ICON’s Role?
Quite frankly, I have no clue, but I can guess. In the announcement post, the team stated they will work with SK-Planet to “transform the digital marketing framework for existing brands, and develop a mid-term and long-term roadmap to enhance the customer experience in both online and offline areas” and “to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to vitalize the local economy.”
In the context of the ICON network, it sounds like SK-Planet could potentially use ICON’s AI/ML expertise to generate specific marketing funnels on a per-user basis for Syrup Wallet, ICON’s DEX and IRC token generation for pegging a stablecoin to KRW, tokenization and tracking of digital vouchers and membership cards via non-fungible IRC-3 tokens for Gifticon and Syrup Wallet, automated smart-contract supply chain and delivery workflows for Syrup Style, incentivization for sharing honest restaurant reviews on Syrup Table, and CHAIN ID integration for Syrup Pay.
Do you have any theories? If so, @ me on Twitter.