North Korea studying a state cryptocurrency
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North Korea studying a state cryptocurrency

By Michele Porta - 19 Sep 2019

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According to VICE News, North Korea is in the early stages of developing its cryptocurrency in an attempt to avoid international sanctions and evade the global financial system.

No official name yet

Pyongyang has long shown an interest in cryptocurrencies, with the country recently bringing together field experts for the first conference on blockchain and cryptocurrencies which took place in April.

The digital currency, which has no official name yet, will be “more like bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies,” according to Alejandro Cao de Benos, the official responsible for North Korea’s cryptocurrency conferences.

“We are still in the very early stages in the creation of the token. Now we are in the phase of studying the goods that will give value to it”.

Pyongyang would thus potentially be able to monitor all transactions and those who have access to the cryptocurrency. These are the same reasons why other countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran have considered similar projects.

According to a UN report, some state-sponsored hackers have helped accumulate more than $2 billion in digital currency in recent years in order to help pay for the country’s weapons program.

The blockchain in North Korea

In 2017, the University of Science and Technology in Pyongyang began to offer university students an in-depth course on cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

Federico Tenga, the Italian founder of the Chainside startup, travelled to Pyongyang to teach some of the country’s best students about bitcoin and the technology it is based on: blockchain.

However, while experts believe that Pyongyang is perfectly capable of building its own cryptocurrency, they are far from convinced that the project will be successful in the long term. Especially after observing the case of Maduro’s Petro in Venezuela.

Cao de Benos also reiterated that some companies would already have signed contracts with the North Korean government to develop blockchain systems in areas such as education, medicine and finance.

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