When it comes to the technological process of blockchain, I believe there’s a series of phases that any successful project will go through:
- Mass Adoption
When ICON was first launched as an ICO, it was in the “speculation” stage. The project at that point in time offered little but promises and partnerships.
Next, it moved into the development stage (essentially the entirety of 2018 and a large part of 2019), which was the process of actually building the technology but we had not yet reached the stage of being able to use the technology (beyond simple transactions).
Following that was “usage.” Meaning that the blockchain could be “used” in the loosest sense of the term. For instance, ICONbet, ICON’s leading DApp, could be considered “usage” but it’s success doesn’t necessarily indicate one way or another if the project could be successful at an institutional level over the long-term. Possessing gambling functionality does not mean it has institutional-grade security functionality, for instance.
Finally, we get to “adoption,” which I believe is what just happened for the ICON network.
This week, we received news that we suspected would be coming soon, but was confirmed today: South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) will officially be issuing diplomas to graduating students via the ICON public blockchain. The story received attention in mainstream crypto press outlet The Block:
On Feb. 7, POSTECH’s 828 new graduates will receive an email letter with a QR code linked to their blockchain-stored diploma. The diplomas are created by blockchain-based certificate issuance service broof. Launched in May 2019 by Korean firm ICONLOOP, the service allows users to issue, manage, and view online certificates via ICONLOOP’s public blockchain network.
While only 828 graduates will receive diplomas, the significance of this moment cannot be understated.
Ever since the beginnings of the past bull market – and well throughout the bear market – one of the primary critiques of blockchain technology was the lack of adoption. Sure, Bitcoin could be used as currency and some interesting projects are being built on Ethereum, but there were few examples of mainstream institutions utilizing blockchain in a purposeful and practical manner.
Well, in this case, one of Korea’s top universities issuing one of its most important documents on the blockchain is essentially the definition of “adoption.”
Of course, there have been other uses of ICON’s public network that could be classified as “adoption.” For instance, POSTECH also issued certificates to graduates of its blockchain CEO course.
However, by utilizing ICON for a document of such importance helps build trust in the ICON network. Other institutions may be observing and thinking “well, if one of the top universities in Korea trusts this blockchain, we can too.”
It’s this sort of observation, proof of concept, and publicity that starts the ball rolling to the last and most critical step: mass adoption.