[INTERVIEW] China big on blockchain technology: Eric Gu
[THE INVESTOR] South Korea and China are front-runners when it comes to cracking down on cryptocurrency trade, but according to Chinese blockchain expert Eric Gu, the world’s second-largest economy is actually a big supporter of blockchain technology.
“The Chinese government is very supportive as long as you don’t touch on cryptocurrency itself,” Eric Gu, the founder and CEO of 4-year-old ViewFn, a fast-growing public blockchain platform operator in China, told The Investor in a recent interview in Seoul.
ViewFn Founder and CEO Eric Gu. Park Ga-young/The Investor
On multiple government levels, Beijing is researching and adopting the technology, Gu said, referring to Guiyang province, which is building a social credit system based on big data and blockchain.
“Chinese authorities dislike initial coin offerings because of the risks. I think the same sentiment applies to the Korean government, although Korean regulations seem to be more relaxed than in China,” Gu said.
In September 2017, China completely banned crypto-to-fiat trading and ICOs. Late last year, Seoul issued similarly stringent regulations, even hinting at closing down cryptocurrency exchanges.
Banning ICOs have had a negative impact on blockchain projects, as companies are now turning to more traditional ways of raising funds. ViewFn has also turned to such investment methods. One notable investor includes American venture capitalist Tim Drapper.
Despite these regulatory hurdles and perhaps a general lack of public understanding, blockchain technology will become as big as the internet, Gu predicted.
“We’re witnessing a great change. Blockchain is more powerful than we can imagine. People don’t need to know blockchain, but the technology will take over our life as much as the internet has done.”
Gu’s company and its blockchain platform Metaverse, designed for smart properties and digital identities, are aspiring to lead such change.
Gu, who was one of the co-founders of NEO -- China’s largest cryptocurrency formerly known as Antshare -- sees digital assets and the digital economy dominating existing financial institutions.
“Digital assets exchange are already surpassing the transaction volume of major stock exchanges in Korea or China,” Gu said. This will go beyond crypto exchanges to the smart economy, in which assets will take diverse forms including art pieces and intellectual property.
Gu’s trust in digital assets is such that he has declared he would not sell his cryptocurrency unless he does not know where his next meal is coming from.
In his view, Korea -- with its open-minded people and its acceptance toward new technology -- has the potential to lead the global blockchain revolution.
Gu said he was impressed by Korean supporters, who voluntarily visited Metaverse’s meetups taking place in China. “We didn’t even know there was a Metaverse community in Korea until they came to our meetups in Macau. We have communities in China and the US but not in Japan or other countries. One Korean man came to our headquarters and pointed out some of the bugs. I was very impressed,” he said.
Gu is now mulling the possibility of opening an office in Korea.
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)