ICON – South Korea’s Crypto Startup Taking on the World

ICON is a fast-growing blockchain company. Based in South Korea, where blockchain is rather still in a primitive stage, ICON has made its way in the list of companies that are expected to make a notable mark in the blockchain space. It is establishing a known legacy among its peers internationally with its centers in Seoul, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

ICON is based on a rather unique idea. Many blockchain companies and start-ups focus on how blockchain can be used to bring solutions to unique problems, or are based on providing blockchain-as-a-service, or provide financial services. ICON, on the other hand, talks about a bigger picture. It wishes to serve as a conduit to connect different communities leading to a decentralized, but a well connected community of communities.

The definition of community is very specific for ICON. As used in its whitepaper, a community is a body that functions on a blockchain. ICON’s base aim is to use blockchain to connect these blockchain using communities.

What Does the ICON Community Look Like?

In today’s world, there are constant interactions between communities like finance, public service, logistics, healthcare, IoT etc. As of now, these interactions or connections are made via a central body which needs to be trusted. The presence of a central body slows down processes. Often, it takes days to make appointments or to get relevant work done. With the emergence and the spread of blockchain, the entire procedure of communities interacting with each other would change. Smart contracts will replace the central bodies. Rather than having external relations being handled through a third party, smart contracts would provide a more secure and a way more efficient alternative. ICON hopes to lead the way in building such a community where community-to-community transactions take place seamlessly through their Smart Contracts.

Source: ICON’s Whitepaper

ICON did not start as what it is now. ICON evolved from a company called theloop. Functioning only in South Korea, theloop aimed to provide blockchain-as -a-service.

Technical Details


The ICON Network consists of the following components:

  1. Community
  2. C-node (Community Node)
  3. C-rep (Community Representative)
  4. ICON Republic
  5. Citizen Node

A community is a blockchain network of different nodes which has one governance system and has its own characteristics and rules (it can even have a different medium of exchange). For example; financial institutions, governments, schools, e-commerce platform, healthcare, Bitcoin, and Ethereum can all be considered a ‘Community’.

C-Node is that part of a Community that affects the consensus of the Community governance. In ICON, C-Nodes can be made by both individuals and organizations (banks, brokers, insurers, schools, governments, etc.). Node policies are determined by the members of each Community.

Community Representatives, as implied the name is a representative of a Community. Community Representatives have the right to vote on transaction verification, as well as in governance in the ICON Republic. They are selected through a very rigorous process. The Community Representative is also an integral part of the ICON Republic.

The ICON Republic is the infrastructure that connects the communities in the ICON Network and comprises of C-reps and the C-nodes. The ICON Republic has no function in the governance of the communities.

DAPPs created on the loopchain are considered as citizen nodes; they cannot vote in the governance of the system, but have the right to perform transactions.


Within the ICON Network, multiple types of connections can occur.

i) Connection Between Nodes Within a Single Community
Every Community has the freedom to have their own blockchain, meaning transactions can occur within their own blockchain having individual consensus algorithms. This would not affect the ICON blockchain. These Communities can take the form of financial, healthcare, educational institutions (real-life communities), and can even be crypto companies like Bitcoin or Ethereum.

ii) Connection Between Nodes Within ICON Republic
The major function of the ICON loop is to act as a connector between the Communities in the ICON Network. Supported by loopchain, it has a distinctive consensus algorithm, named the LFT (Loop Fault Tolerance). This algorithm allows procession real-time transactions.

iii) Connection Between Community and ICON Republic
Communities can connect with the ICON Republic via DEX (Decentralized Exchange), which provides the exchange ratio and the exchange values. DEX operates in a way that if a consensus in the Community cannot be made, the consensus procedure is suspended within the ICON Republic.

iv) Connection Between Different Communities
Different Communities can interact with each other via the ICON Republic. The real-time connection between the Communities via the ICON Republic is made through DEX. This is how the Community Nodes (C-nodes) of separate Communities are connected to each other through ICON.


Communities in the ICON Network work independently – have their own consensus algorithms, cryptocurrencies etc. which remain independent from the ICON Republic.

The governance done in the ICON Republic is by the consensus of the C-Reps. Although, ICON Republic has no say in the governance of individual Communities, but has a role in issuing and rewarding policies of ICON Exchange Token.

Features of ICON

ICON Wallet and DEX – The ICON Wallet is designed to transfer, settle and exchange currencies in real time through DEX. 

Scalability – ICON is compatible with all other blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. This capability of ICON allows it to expand as more communities join in.

Loopchain – Loopchain is ICON’s blockchain, the central blockchain which allows the connection between the communities. It uses Smart Contracts, meaning the terms and conditions of any interaction/transaction can be predefined. Specifically, ICON uses SCORE, Smart Contract On Reliable Environment, which designed for high performance and is easy to generate while being available for several applications.

Consensus – The Loop Fault Tolerance consensus mechanism used by ICON ensures finality of consensus with freedom from network forks.

Blockchain Signature Infrastructure (BSI) – This is a Smart Contract based system that allows the construction of digital signature infrastructures like Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).

The ICX Token

The official token of ICON is ICX, which is an ERC20 type token.

The Roadmap

Here’s ICON’s roadmap as described in its official whitepaper.

Source: ICON’s Whitepaper

Qirat Ayaz

Passionate about robots and how the robotics is changing everything around us. Writes about startups in the blockchain space. Contact the editor at

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