The head of South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has promised that its indispensable tokens featuring KTS pop stars BTS will be “green” following the reaction of environmentally conscious young fans.
Upbit launched its crypto art market in November and plans to launch a series of NFTs involving BTS members in a joint venture with the boy gang management company Hybe.
But members of the gang’s powerful young fan base have criticized the NFT and the crypto industry in general for consuming energy from digging and tracking token ownership.
Sirgu Lee, CEO of Upbit Dunamu, told the Financial Times in an interview that the Hybe joint venture will use “low-carbon, environmentally friendly” technology to produce NFT.
Lee said Upbit’s market for NFT uses blockchain technology developed by another Dunamu subsidiary, Lambda256, which claims to use 99.99% less energy on its Luniverse platform than leading blockchain-based platforms, such as ethereum.
“We will try to explain to the fans that this is not harmful to the environment,” Lee said.
The first token purchased on the platform, an image of a girl holding a cat by artist Zhang Koal, called “Mirage Cat 3”, sold in November for about $ 173,000 in bitcoins.
Luniverse claims that the energy consumed for its entire blockchain network, including NFT, is estimated at “about 842.53 kWh per year”, an amount roughly equivalent to the monthly electricity consumption of a consumer utility user in the United States.
South Korea has one of the largest digital currency markets in the world. The Korean won is the third most widely used currency for bitcoin trading, after the dollar and yen, accounting for 3.4% of world trade, according to Coinhills, an industrial tracker.
Lee also said he needed global action to tackle problems such as money laundering and cyber theft.
In 2019, cybercriminals hacked the Upbit exchange, stealing about $ 49 million of ether, the cryptocurrency Ethereum.
“One of my nightmares has been hacked and I’m losing everything [the investors’] money. It’s a huge responsibility and it keeps you awake at night, “Lee said.
“I’m not worried about going to jail, I’m more worried about being stabbed to death by our investors.”
According to experts, many young South Koreans are enthusiastic buyers of digital assets, motivated in part by high youth unemployment and rising house prices.
Crypto madness has led to a surge in bitcoin prices in South Korea, where the premium is trading at 2-3 percent compared to the United States, reducing the gap, which reached 20 percent last year.
Lee dismissed criticism that the indebted young Koreans attracted by NFT and the large profits from cryptocurrency trading were at excessive financial risk, arguing that their understanding of the asset class was underestimated.
“In the West, young people have grown up playing consoles after school, while in Korea these young people go online to play games, they are used to collecting and buying digital items,” Lee said. “These young boys understand that there is this value in digital assets.”