KT, Gimpo plan a community currency

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KT, Gimpo plan a community currency

KT and its affiliated mobile marketing company KT mhows will issue roughly 10 billion won ($8.8 million) worth of community currency for the city of Gimpo, Gyeonggi, using blockchain technology, the mobile carrier said Monday.

A community currency is a type of internal coin used within restricted groups, sometimes to boost economies of marginalized populations.

While more than 90 different community currencies worth 310 billion won are issued every year in Korea, many communities have been reluctant to adopt them because they are usually issued as a paper note or gift certificate that are inconvenient to use, according to KT.

The mobile carrier said its blockchain-based community currency platform will solve that inconvenience. It will be circulated through QR codes on a mobile phone application or pre-paid plastic cards. The plastic cards are for people in their 30s and 40s not used to using smartphones for payments.

The company added that blockchain technology, a distributed ledger system that promises security and transparency in transactions, will help local governments track and manage community currencies and prevent people from illegally converting them into legal tender.

KT’s will be the country’s first blockchain-based community currency that allows store operators to redeem the community currency into won. A KT spokesperson said it partnered with BC Card for the direct conversion.

KT said Gimpo residents will be able to use the community currency like cash at participating local stores from the first half of next year.

In line with the development of the new community currency platform, the Gimpo city government said it plans to pay some local benefits like post-natal care and civil servant benefits in the blockchain-based community currency from next year. The government is reaching out to expand the number of participating local stores and preparing for promotions to encourage people to use the community currency.

The total amount of the community currency to be issued in Gimpo is expected at 10 billion won a year, KT said.

Starting with Gimpo, KT hopes to implement its blockchain-based platform nationwide by signing partnerships with 160 local governments. The technology can be used in a broad range of governmental administrative work including electronic voting systems and public surveys, according to KT.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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