In this edition of ICON Weekly, Shinhan Bank integrates MyID into its native banking app, Fortmatic adds ICON support for Magic SDK, and RHIZOME hosts an AMA in the CryptoVigilante Telegram channel.

Shinhan Bank Integrates Zzeung

Congratulations everyone, mainstream adoption of the ICON public chain has officially commenced. Earlier this week, ICONLOOP announced a partnership with Shinhan Bank to issue KYC compliance certificates via the Zzeung mobile app. In last week’s post, I wrote about how Zzeung has been deployed on Jeju Island to aid with COVID-19 contact tracing. I mistakenly referred to Zzeung as a COVID-related app. After the recent Shinhan Bank news, I now understand that Zzeung is more of a general purpose digital ID solution.

Shinhan Bank is South Korea’s second largest commercial bank with over $250 billion in assets, 10,000 employees, and 1,000 branches nationwide. For those who live in the USA, Shinhan Bank is like the Bank of America of South Korea. With this new partnership in place, Shinhan Bank (a reputable financial institution of the highest grade) will play the role of “identity verifier” for ICONLOOP’s Zzeung app. After a user’s identity is verified by Shinhan Bank, a KYC compliance certificate will be issued, and users will be able to use Zzeung to authenticate for a variety of financial services including Shinhan’s own mobile banking app.

I can’t overstate the significance of ICONLOOP’s partnership with Shinhan Bank. Similar to Jeju Island’s usage of Zzeung, the Shinhan Bank integration also makes use of both the ICON public chain and a private loopchain to preserve user privacy. With over 18 million customers, Zzeung is bound to make an impact on the ICON network’s on-chain transaction activity. 18 million customers could potentially generate an average of 49,315 transactions per day. However, like I mentioned last week, the implications of Zzeung do not lie in potential transaction counts to offset ICX inflation. Transactions are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. We know they’ll happen, so it’s not even worth talking about.

Let’s take a step back and really soak in this news. Shinhan Bank is one of South Korea’s largest financial institutions, and it has openly adopted the ICON public chain for to modernize the country’s outdated ActiveX-based authentication system. As we all know, identity is everything in the digital world we live in. When it comes to financial services, livelihoods, fortunes, and even dreams are at stake. Thus, Shinhan Bank’s integration of the MyID-powered Zzeung app represents a huge vote of confidence for ICON, ICONLOOP, and a blockchain-powered future in South Korea.

Zzeung’s level of mainstream traction is unprecedented. I’ve been in the blockchain space for four years now, and ICON’s continuous success in South Korea is something I’ve yet to see from any other project. The best part about Shinhan Bank’s Zzeung integration is that it’s only the beginning. Disregarding Jeju Island’s adoption of Zzeung (which is huge in itself), Shinhan Bank was the first entity to integrate Zzeung into its core products. Considering Shinhan Bank’s influence in South Korea, I can’t imagine a better first adopter of Zzeung. Just today, a few other Shinhan-affiliated entities joined ICONLOOP’s MyID Alliance with an expectation to use Zzeung in the near future.

Keep in mind there are now 78 members in the MyID Alliance. With one integration announcement per week, it would take approximately a year and a half to get through the list of current members – this is the scale of ICONLOOP’s influence in South Korea. Over the coming months, I expect other South Korean banks and financial services companies to follow suit with integrating Zzeung into apps that are used by South Koreans everyday.

Fortmatic’s Magic SDK is Now Available for ICON

For the most part, blockchain UX is still a nightmare in 2020. Consider MetaMask, which is one of the most popular browser-based wallets available today. MetaMask supports password logins, but many parts of the wallet are still too complex for new users. This doesn’t mean MetaMask is a bad product. For an intermediate-level user who understands basic crypto concepts like gas fees, seed phrases, and tokens, MetaMask is a pretty decent option for interfacing with decentralized exchanges and other blockchain services.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the world isn’t only comprised of blockchain enthusiasts. There are plenty of people who simply don’t care about blockchain and crypto. With this in mind, it would be extraordinarily dumb to exclude this majority from using blockchain services. If you’re the CEO of a company that develops a blockchain-powered app, you wouldn’t want your app to only be usable by a small fraction of society. To appeal to the highest number of potential users, you’d want to abstract out the technical complexities of blockchain as much as possible, and that’s exactly what Fortmatic’s Magic SDK does.

Magic SDK provides a way for blockchain developers to implement password-less authentication for dApps and other blockchain-powered services. If you’ve ever used Slack, you’re probably familiar with the idea of password-less authentication. When signing in to Slack, you can instruct Slack to email you a one-time login link. After clicking the link, you’ll automatically be logged in to Slack – no password required. This security model offloads risk to the email provider, which actually turns out to be a good idea because companies like Google and Microsoft spend a lot of money to secure their email services.

With Magic SDK’s new ICON integration, developers on the ICON platform will be able to implement password-less authentication for dApps and other services. This is a huge step forward in terms of UI/UX, and I can’t wait to see what the community builds with this new integration. The first major project that will utilize Magic SDK is ICX Station’s Bridge, a fiat-to-crypto, well, bridge, that aims to remove all blockchain-related friction from the user experience with the assistance of a fiat banking partner. With Bridge, developers will be able to build apps and services that use the ICON blockchain in an invisible manner.

RHIZOME-CryptoVigilante AMA

This past weekend, William McKenzie and I participated on behalf of RHIZOME in an ICON-themed AMA hosted by CryptoVigilante. We were unable to answer all the questions during the AMA, so I decided to answer all of them below. Please note that similar questions have been grouped together.

What is the difference between ICONick and Icon’s MyID? Are they the same service? Is it only possible to use them within the Icon ecosystem?

Both DID and ICONick seem to be used for Identification purposes. What is the difference between them? Why does ICON need 2 ID systems? What advantages this provide?

The two products are completely different. ICONick was a proposed service to link ICX addresses to an easy-to-remember ID. ICON’s MyID is a DID technology that is being used in a production app called Zzeung. Zzeung is a “digital ID” that can be used to sign up for financial services and verify your identity in the real world. ICONick is an ICON-only thing, but MyID and Zzeung are mainstream products that don’t require any knowledge of blockchain.

Do you think that the decentralization of ICON by not having a CEO or leaders, has made the development of this project difficult? What are the advantages of not having a “leader”?

The ICON project has many layers, and I think some layers do have “leaders”. For example, if we’re talking about the day-to-day network operation, the top 22 P-Reps are the network’s leaders. In terms of development, ICONLOOP is responsible for leading development. From a macro project-level perspective, I’d argue that Min Kim is seen as a leader for obvious reasons. I don’t think anything in life can truly be leader-less, but I hope to see other parties contribute to ICON’s core code once everything is open-sourced in the future.

Could you give us some preliminary results of tracing project in Jeju? If there is any other protocol, ICON or Zzeung can be implemented to proceed what’s required?

The product was launched last week, so we’ll see more numbers in the coming months. That’s a great question though. What I can tell you is that every visitor to Jeju Island will be required to use Zzeung at this time. Part of that process includes interaction with ICON public chain for initial verification.

NEOPLY recently joined the ICON network, can you tell give us more details about this partnership, and how it would benefit both ecosystems?

I saw this phrase that NEOPLY team joined ICON as a P-Rep with a significant amount staked. Could you tell us more about this partnership ?

NEOPLY is a major investment firm in South Korea. I think having block producers with varied backgrounds makes a public blockchain more decentralized because the intentions behind governance is motivated by different factors. Having a major company onboard helps to legitimize ICON public chain. On the other hand, having a strong community also improves the grassroots narrative, so NEOPLY joining ICON is a win-win for everyone involved. For more information, I’d recommend checking out NEOPLY’s announcement.

What is deflationary mechanism of ICX? Does IRC 16 token standard give ICON flexibility to get rid of any chaos or unexpected volatilities?

On ICON, rewards for voting ICONists and P-Reps are sourced from transaction fees first and newly-minted ICX if necessary.

  1. If transaction fees do not cover the amount of ICX required for rewards, additional is minted. This creates an inflationary environment.
  2. If transaction fees exceed the amount of ICX required for rewards, the excess ICX is burned. This creates a deflationary environment.

IRC-16 is just a stablecoin standard, so it doesn’t have any impact on how ICX trades on secondary markets. With that said, I suppose if an IRC-16 stablecoin gets a lot of traction, that could generate a lot of transaction fees to offset ICX inflation. This could potentially result in lowering the supply of ICX, but it’s not exactly a direct result of IRC-16 existing.

How will Magic Integration to the ICON Ecosystem help in providing better user experience in all built dapp on the ICON Network? And what will be its benefits for the users of ICON dapps?

Check out this section of the post for more insight into how Magic SDK can benefit dApps built on ICON.

South Korea is one of the most developed countries and with the most advanced technology, which makes it the perfect place to bring blockchain technology to the masses. But what is ICON plan to achieve this in developing countries, emerging markets like Latin America and Africa?

Right now, I think the ICON team is mostly focused on South Korea for good reason – they are making some serious progress there. With that said, I’ve seen a connection between ICONLOOP and Africa for some time now. Check out this article that covers some of ICONLOOP’s ongoing work in Africa.

Over the past weekend Icon network experienced an attacked by a malicious individual using the SetDelegate function. Is it possible that it will happen again in the future? What are the actions done for it to be avoided?

Contrary to the ICON Foundation’s view, I didn’t see the recent SetDelegate fiasco as a malicious attack. The network code was operating as it was written, and the event was largely made possibly by the lack of a stringent QA protocol for network updates on ICON.

This is precisely the reason why I don’t fully agree with the “work fast and break things along the way” strategy. I think that kind of strategy can work for less-serious blockchains, but ICON is now being used by governments and major financial institutions. I think it’s okay to work fast as long as testing is taken very seriously. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case until now. The last few network updates were never tested on a testnet that mirrors ICON’s mainnet configuration. Fortunately, it seems like the SetDelegate issue has sparked change! The ICON team and P-Reps are currently in the process of setting up a better testnet, so hopefully future updates will see further testing.

On a related note, the SetDelegate event caused $12 million in ICX to be minted. In response, ICON has pledged to burn 20 million ICX. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this response. I’d rather see a smaller burn, and a promise to hire a technical lead and security team for the ICON public chain.

Long story short, software is never 100% perfect so it’s possible that we will see similar events in the future. With that said, the new testing protocol will help reduce the chance of something bad happening again.

The recent picking of ICON by Jeju Island was huge and we can see that it really affected the increased price of ICX. What’s the next big step for ICX?

Shinhan Bank kicked off ICX adoption for mainstream financial services in South Korea. I expect to see more financial companies join the Zzeung bandwagon in the coming months. This will lead to ICX playing a critical role in South Korea’s identity and financial infrastructure.

Around the world, some banks already use face recognition systems . How did you persuade or therefore came a need for KYC verification process for Shinhan Bank ? We might call this banking system needs to address to solve its needs by blockchain?

South Korea has long been plagued by outdated technology when it comes to identity authentication. For a long time, the country relied on ActiveX-based certificates for online authentication. At its core, MyID and Zzeung is a direct response and modernization of the outdated ActiveX technology. Since MyID and Zzeung utilize the loopchains and the ICON public chain for their underlying technology, I expect to see more financial automation via smart contracts on the ICON public chain in the future.

Reading your whitepaper I noticed that it last update was back in 2017. Has something of your vision, or methods, changed since then? Something to add or modify considering the speed blockchain technology improves at?

A lot has happened since the white paper. I’d recommend reading the additional yellow papers, which contain more updated information. Also, check out RHIZOME’s ICON resources repository to read up on developments.

How does ICON solve the problem of lack of SCALABILITY, SPEED AND PRIVACY that affects many decentralized platforms?

ICON is scalable and fast. With its LFT (loop-fault tolerance) consensus algorithm, the current block time is two seconds. ICON is in the process of developing a more optimized version of this algorithm called LFT2, which is expected to increase performance and lower block time even further. ICON can also operate in multi-channel mode for higher TPS (transactions per second).

In terms of privacy, I don’t think the team is currently exploring privacy implementations. At this time, institutions are using the ICON public chain together with a private chain when user privacy needs to be preserved.

In a commercial and technological way, how can traditional companies integrate to the use of $ ICX?

ICON is an open source dApp and smart contract platform, so companies are free to integrate the technology if there is a valid use case for blockchain. There are various SDKs (Python, JavaScript, .NET, Java, and Swift), so ICON can be integrated into just about any website or app.

What is the difference between ICON nexus connecting C-Reps and a centralized third party doing it, how is security ensured?

I don’t have any insight into this because there isn’t much public information about C-Reps and how they’ll be implemented in the ICON ecosystem.

Are there any criteria to be eligible for being part of the Development Community and are there any Bounty Programs for the developers who contribute to your system?

There are no prerequisites. If you’re interested in building on ICON, you can do so right away. There are a variety of SDKs (Python, JavaScript, .NET, Java, and Swift), and smart contracts are written in Python. I’m not aware of any bounty programs, but there is an official grant program. If you have a good idea, create a pitch, and submit a grant proposal!

Do you have a plan to help boost token demand and scarcity? will there be a burning or repurchasing program to create price and demand stability?

ICX staking has a very attractive real yield, so we’ve seen consistent reduction in circulating supply over the past year. People see ICX as a promising investment, so they are interested in locking up tokens to generate staking rewards.

Two days after the announcement about Jeju, I witnessed the price of icx became 80 cents and then more good news followed, what will be the predicted price of icx by the end of the year?

I have no idea, but hopefully price will go up. 😎

Apparently, many blockchain projects are not solving any real problem, they just exist to sell their tokens. What problems exactly are ICON solving, and solutions that you provide?

With MyID and Zzeung, ICON is being used to solve South Korea’s online authentication problem, which relied on outdated ActiveX certificates in the past. Products like broof are being used to issue university diplomas on the blockchain. In the future, I expect broof certificates to be integrated with MyID to make the process of credential verification during job searching more efficient. These are just two examples of how ICON technology is being used in real life.

How does BTP Protocol differ from other known protocols? Also, how ICON differ from COSMOS? What are the strengthens of ICON? Thank you!

I actually haven’t researched Cosmos and other interoperability protocols too much because there is already so much to learn within the ICON ecosystem. I think ICON’s biggest strength is the quality and degree of business connections it has. I haven’t seen another project with more direct relationships with businesses and governments. The strategy of onboarding entities onto private loopchains and slowly phasing in public chain usage is a great one, and it sets ICON apart from other interoperability projects. That’s not to say that projects like Cosmos and Polkadot won’t succeed. I think there is a lot room in the blockchain space for multiple projects to succeed as long as they can find their niches.

How is #ICON projected in the long term, to stay in a market of varied and effervescent new Crypto technologies?

ICON is already being embedded into South Korean society as we speak. ICONLOOP’s Zzeung app which makes use of the ICON public chain as well is the country’s most credible DID, and it has a huge first mover advantage. In South Korea, I think ICON is in a very good place. On a worldwide scale, I think ICON is still very small so there’s a lot of room to grow. To attract more adoption, we’ll need to work on incentivizing developers in the right way, working with businesses to integrate blockchain in transparent ways, and continue innovating on core technology (which the team is already doing).

ICX doesn’t deserve the low price that we have right now. What do you think is lacking about $ICX that it struggles to reach it’s higher price or reach it’s ATH?

I don’t think anything is lacking. The crypto market is young, and price action is largely determined by hype and market makers now.