The government of South Korea has massive plans for pioneering the adoption of use cases for blockchain technology. The government has earmarked KRW223.7 billion (U.S.$177.1 million) to invest directly in metaverse projects as part of a new program called the Digital New Deal.
The program will be overseen by the Ministry of Science and ICT, according to a CNBC report. The investment’s intent is to kickstart the metaverse space in South Korea by supporting companies and creating jobs in the nascent industry.
Lim Hyesook, South Korea’s Minister of Science and ICT, describes the current state of the metaverse as “an uncharted digital continent with indefinite potential.” The metaverse refers to the web3-based virtual world powered by blockchain technology, digital tokens, and NFTs
With the move, South Korea’s government will become the first national government to invest in the industry that is dominated by big-tech and venture capital investors. While the government is taking its first tottering steps toward the initiative, South Korean citizens and companies are not new to the industry.
Back in February, two major retailers in the country unveiled metaverse and artificial intelligence elements to their online platforms. This allows customers to explore their products virtually.
Similarly, South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, is also reportedly already building a KRW3.9 billion metaverse platform to allow citizens to access public services virtually. The Seoul City government says it plans to have completed the project by 2023.
South Korea is not alone in exploring metaverse possibilities
Despite plans for making inroads in the metaverse, regulations for the industry remain murky in South Korea. The country has tended to be seen as strict towards the industry and is still figuring out the kinks for a more even-handed approach in its forthcoming DABA bill.
While South Korea may be the first to commit to investing in the metaverse, it is not the only country giving the prospect thought. Others include China and the United Arab Emirates. The Chinese government, despite banning digital currencies, has encouraged public organizations to explore blockchain technology and metaverse applications.
In the UAE, Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) launched a virtual headquarters in the Sandbox metaverse. The regulator stated that the virtual office would help it interact with the firms it is looking to regulate more familiarly. Dubai has been attracting more digital currency firms since the creation of VARA.
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