Busan, the second-largest city in South Korea, has launched an identification app that uses a public blockchain to verify citizen information.

The app was developed by Coinplug, a Korean startup working within the regulatory sandbox of the Busan blockchain regulation-free zone. The developer used the Metadium blockchain and its Decentralized Identifier technology to power the app.

Through this system, user data is stored on their devices, and only a cryptographic proof of the information is submitted to the blockchain. This strikes a balance between personal data privacy and the need to create tamper-proof records. Normally, the latter can only be achieved through centralized servers holding all the data.

The app will let citizens access a wide variety of “non-face-to-face” government services, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic became a much higher priority. Current use cases include the ability to use the Busan Citizen ID and other types of government-issued smart cards. The app also features a crypto wallet, which follows Coinplug’s efforts to integrate crypto payments in South Korea’s post offices.

Busan’s heavy involvement with blockchain

The trend of digitalization of government services started well before the popularization of blockchain in some countries, according to a 2018 report

A Coinplug spokesperson told Cointelegraph that Busan’s choice of a decentralized platform is part of the city’s push for technological innovation, where blockchain plays an important role.

Busan’s regulatory sandbox allowed for the creation of several initiatives involving blockchain. In December 2019, this resulted in the launch of a local cryptocurrency developed in cooperation with KT, one of Korea’s largest telecom providers. 

This was one of the initial goals of the regulation-free zone, with the city revealing such plans as early as July 2019. 

Earlier, in February 2019, the city partnered with Hyundai Pay to promote fintech development in the city.

The country as a whole is also maintaining a positive stance toward blockchain, with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in noting in July 2019 that the country must be at the forefront of effective blockchain regulation — while identifying personal data as one of its key uses.

Korean corporate giant LG has also made several moves into blockchain-based identification, with a representative noting to Cointelegraph that all login functions could be performed on a blockchain.