- 1 South Korean telecom giant KT is closing NFT platform MINCL.
- 2 They have cited “shifting business conditions” as a reason for the closure.
- 3 This forms part of a wider pullback from crypto by major Korean conglomerates.
SEOUL – KT Corporation, South Korea’s second-largest telecom company, announced the shutdown of its non-fungible token (NFT) platform MINCL effective March 4th. The closure comes amidst a swirling crypto winter that has caused major Korean corporations to rethink their embrace of web3 services.
In an announcement, KT Corporation advised users of its KT Wiz Rookie Pack baseball NFT collection to withdraw their digital collectibles from MINCL to external crypto wallets before the date of the closure. After March 4th, the NFTs will no longer be viewable or accessible on the platform.
KT cited “shifting business conditions” as the business prompt for closing MINCL, which has offered NFT minting, trading, and wallet functionalities since its launch in April 2022.
A Pullback from Crypto Across Major Conglomerates
The abandonment of MINCL mirrors similar actions by other top Korean conglomerates that dove head-first into the crypto and metaverse space in 2022 amidst massive hype and soaring digital asset prices.
Last month, gaming firm Netmarble shut down its 70-person metaverse division entirely. The liquidation occurred despite Chairman Bang Jun-hyuk trumpeting the metaverse as a major opportunity last year.
Netmarble’s move followed fellow game developer Com2uS’s restructuring its metaverse staff and operations after substantial losses in Q3 2022.
Outside gaming, retail giant Hyundai Department Store also plans to discontinue its NFT wallet service H.NFT by the end of March this year.
Short-Term Returns Key Factor
Industry experts believe that a desire for concrete short-term returns lies behind the pullback. Corporations may lose patience with experimental web3 divisions not yielding significant profits quickly enough.
“This always happens when large companies chase new businesses based on FOMO,” commented metaverse specialist Park Hye-jin of the Seoul School of Integrated Sciences & Technologies.
Park believes KT and its peers are recalibrating around core business lines that enhance their bottom lines today.
KT’s Own History of Bold Tech Bets
The abandonment of MINCL also interrupts KT’s history of placing bold bets on new technologies with long-term disruptive potential.
The company commercialized 5G services ahead of competitors, seeking a first-mover advantage. It also invested early in artificial intelligence and cloud infrastructure before business cases matured.
However, the crypto winter’s harsh impact on digital assets and NFT valuations has left KT questioning whether global blockchain adoption justifies near-term costs and resources.
MINCL Users Left in Difficult Positions
While KT’s decision to respond to market conditions is financially understandable, it places MINCL’s existing NFT holders in a difficult position.
By March 4th, they must figure out transfers to external wallets – a difficult ask for mainstream users previously happy to trust a major brand name like KT.
The abandonment also means that KT offered little long-term planning or exit strategy around its NFT foray – leaving buyers needing more future visibility or certainty.
Wider Crypto Sentiment Sours in South Korea
Beyond cooling corporate enthusiasm, crypto’s sheen has also dulled among everyday investors in Korea during the ongoing bear market.
A 2021 craze saw up to two-thirds of South Korean salaried workers exposed to crypto trading. However, as prices retreated sharply over 2022, many locals saw portfolio values decimated, leaving bitter tastes behind.
The imminent termination of KT Corporation’s NFT and crypto wallet platform MINCL caps a pivotal few months for blockchain and web3 adoption in South Korea.
Major conglomerates across the gaming and retail sectors had raced to capitalize on surging crypto asset prices and loud metaverse hype in 2022. Yet 12 months on, record losses have prompted sharp pullbacks.
KT’s abandonment of MINCL signals that even traditionally bold and forward-looking technology companies in Korea are questioning if short-term pains now outweigh vague longer-term web3 gains.
With the platform also offering no recourse or certainty for existing NFT holders, it marks a stark example of the real-life impacts caused by crypto’s fickle sentiment shifts.
As corporations retrench or outright abandon bloated metaverse and blockchain divisions, the coming years may see crypto mania in South Korea replaced by more prudent evaluation.
Nancy J. Allen is a crypto enthusiast, with a major in macroeconomics and minor in business statistics. She believes that cryptocurrencies inspire people to be their own banks, and step aside from traditional monetary exchange systems. She is also intrigued by blockchain technology and its functioning. She frequently researches, and posts content on the top altcoins, their theoretical working principles and technical price predictions.