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Korean Internet Icon Kakao Launches Blockchain Business In Fintech Hub Singapore

South Korean internet giant Kakao Corp. has started a blockchain business in Singapore, media outlets said Monday, as the Southeast Asian financial hub morphs into a regional center for fintech.

Kakao, known best for its mobile messenger, has set up its blockchain enterprise Krust and the nonprofit blockchain platform Klaytn Foundation in Singapore, South Korean news website Maeil Business News Korea reports. The firm picked Singapore, the report says, “due to multiple restrictions at home.”

The business will become a base for Kakao’s research and implementation of new ideas, to be carried out via the nonprofit, the news website says. Krust, it adds, is expected to invest in “promising blockchain startups” in multiple countries and help them develop. Blockchain refers to public, hack-resistant, digital transaction ledgers that are particularly useful for cryptocurrency trades.

Kakao’s decision comes as Singapore builds itself into an Asian center for blockchain, cryptocurrency and other elements of financial technology. Singapore, already the home to 200 bank headquarters, in 2017 set aside S$225 million ($165.6 million) for the development of fintech products, tech news website TechBullion says.

In July, for example, the country’s monetary authority co-released a proposal to let multiple countries integrate their retail payment systems onto one cross-border network for mobile customers.

Singapore is known more broadly for its pro-business climate, yet with tight regulation over the finance sector.

Kakao, founded in 2010, operates an online bank and units specialized in fintechdigital cartoon and ride-hailing along with its KakaoTalk messenger. The company today stands beside the largest business groups in South Korea, including Samsung, Hyundai, SK and LG, which are family-owned conglomerates known as chaebol.

The company set up its Ground X subsidiary in 2018 and it was once meant to lead Kakao’s wider cross-border blockchain business, The Korea Herald says.

Kakao founder and chairman Kim Beom-su has become one of South Korea’s richest people, with real time net worth of $13.2 billion.

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