Haven’t followed ICON since you bought in 2017? Then this article is for you.

So you bought ICX back in 2017 or early 2018 when hype and attention were at their peak.

Since that time, you’ve seen the price fall by a good amount, and maybe you stopped paying as much attention to cryptocurrency projects, including ICON.

But now that it looks like the market is heating back up again, you’ve been inspired to re-evaluate your holdings, which has led you to ask “Has ICON been making progress? Do they have things coming down the pipeline? Is the token worth holding?”

Well, this article is here to help answer those questions for you!

It’s likely you were first introduced to ICON through accurate reports that ICON has built up a number of partnerships with the Korean government and other major institutions.

You’re probably curious if those partnerships have made progress. Well, the answer is YES.

The most notable example of this is what’s called the MyID Alliance. As of writing this, the alliance is comprised of “83 organizations and corporations in various industries such as commercial banks, security firms, e-commerce companies, and manufacturing companies.”

Operating at the center of the MyID Alliance is ICON’s decentralized identification (DID). What’s most important is that this technology has been approved by the Korea Financial Services Commission (FSC) for authenticating users for financial transactions — a difficult approval to receive and one that shows ICON’s long-term government connections have paid off.

Ultimately, the alliance is a commitment from these dozens of firms to utilize this decentralized ID in some manner.

While the rollout and implementation of the MyID Alliance is still in progress, the number of partners already lined up — in conjunction with regulatory approvals — are both exciting developments for ICON.

Beyond the MyID Alliance, we also received from very bullish news in early 2021 that ICON “has secured approval from South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT to test its decentralized identity, or DID, technology system to manage driver’s license data in the country.” We also received confirmation that this would run on ICON’s public chain.

Furthermore, the first major government implementation (that we are publicly aware of) is already underway: the tourist island of Jeju currently utilizes the ICON public chain for COVID-19 tracking and tracing.

In addition, here are other articles detailing various other ways that the ICON blockchain is currently being utilized by enterprises and institutions:

From the early days of the project, the ICON slogan has been “Hyperconnect the World,” indicating that the project’s core feature is interoperability.

While true smart contract interoperability remains a technical challenge, ICON’s team has been working tirelessly on their “Bancor Transfer Protocol” (BTP), which will be a focal point of “ICON 2.0,” the next major iteration of the ICON blockchain that features a number of technical and developmental benefits. Most importantly, “the platform will launch with interoperability features to support and power cross-chain DeFi solutions, which is clearly a driver of the next wave of cryptocurrency adoption and blockchain use cases.”

In addition to ICON 2.0, which is due for release in mid-2021, is the integration of Orbit Bridge, which allows users to transfer a handful of ERC-20 (Ethereum-based) tokens from the Ethereum blockchain to the ICON network. The Orbit Bridge is already up and running on the ICON network and available for use.

ICON isn’t putting all its chips into the enterprise use-case basket. In addition, the ICON Foundation has been working hard to cultivate developers and creators throughout the blockchain space in order to build applications that run on the ICON network. Here is a sampling of the most significant applications released or in development:

  • The first major DApp to launch on ICON — ICONbet — is a decentralized casino that has been operating since 2019. With a decentralized sportsbook and Texas Hold ’em coming soon, it’s likely to become even more popular. To learn more, I encourage you to read “The Revolutionary Nature and Bright Future of ICONbet
  • Project Nebula, a space-themed strategy game utilizing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the ICON network is slated to release in the first half of 2021. If you’d like to learn more, be sure to read “Project Nebula: ICON’s Space-themed Collectible Strategy Game
  • A marketplace for non-fungible tokens on the ICON network is under development. “Craft” will be a platform where users can mint and trade their own NFTs on ICON.
  • EPICX is the newest iteration of FutureICX, a platform where users can compete among each other to see who is the best trader across a wide array of token pairs.
  • BountyCat is a platform that will allow marketers to launch campaigns in a decentralized manner while allowing individuals to serve as ambassadors of sorts for those campaigns. To learn more, read “BountyCat: A New Way to Incentivize Promotion and Marketing

Meanwhile, in order to fuel increased growth of decentralized applications on the ICON network, ICON will be launching the “Contribution Proposal System” in February of 2021, which will allow individuals or teams to receive funding for projects that will help further grow the ICON ecosystem and generate more network activity. The fund will start with 250,000 ICX and can grow to a size of 1,000,000 ICX.

As Decentralized Finance (DeFi) continues to make waves on the Ethereum blockchain, there are also a number of DeFi platforms coming to ICON, including:

Balanced — A lending platform that allows users to put up their ICX as collateral in exchange for receiving collateralized stablecoins tied to the value of the US dollar, similar to MakerDAO.

Open Money Market (OMM) — A money market where anyone can lend and borrow assets, earn interest, and own a share of the protocol, similar to Compound or Aave.

Optimus Finance — Optimizes yield for ICX holders by lending out their ICX to protocols providing the most advantageous interest rate(s), similar to Yearn Finance.

In addition, two automated market makers (comparable to Uniswap), uTrade (powered by the Unifi Protocol) and ICONPOOL are also present and operational on the ICON network.

To gain an introduction to DeFi and learn more about the various DeFi platforms coming to ICON, be sure to read my 8-part “ICON DeFi Guide.”

In early 2021, Min Kim and Ricky Dodds of the ICON Foundation published an article arguing that 2021 would be the year of security tokens.

In that article, they explicitly stated that it’s their goal to launch real estate-backed security tokens on the ICON network during 2021. It’s likely that real estate will serve as the initial use case for security tokens on the ICON blockchain, but likely won’t be the last.

To learn more about what ICON may be building with STOs, I encourage you to read an overview I wrote in January 2021.

While this is far from everything that is currently going on with ICON, this should help give you a pretty good idea of how much the project has grown since 2017, when it was comprised of just a white paper and high hopes.

To continue learning more about ICON’s latest developments, please consider signing up for my weekly newsletter and following me on Twitter. I’d also encourage you to participate in the ICON subreddit, ICON Telegram, and ICON Community forums.

ICON contributor and analyst, ready to hyperconnect the world. Twitter: @iconographerICX

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