Terra has added another partner to its payment provider alliance.
The Singapore-based, South Korean-focused blockchain provider and stable coin issuer has agreed to work with Bugs, a South Korean music streaming service. Bugs is the latest addition to the Terra Alliance, a group of ecommerce companies for which Terra provides payment services.
Terra now has 25 partners in the grouping, including some of the largest ecommerce players in the region, and has ambitions to become the PayPal of Asia or even the next Alipay.
The latest partnership will allow Bugs customers to pay for their song purchases using Terra. The company says that the arrangement is the first of its kind between a major music streaming service and a blockchain payments platform.
Bugs, which has 5.8 million songs available for users, was founded in 2002. Formerly known as Neowiz, it was acquired by NHN Entertainment in 2015. The company is listed on the Kosdaq, South Korea’s secondary market, with NHN owning about 45% of the shares.
The arrangement between Bugs and Terra will utilize CHAI, a Korean payments solution provider that has a mobile app for completing transactions. CHAI will be the public face, while Terra will provide the backend blockchain technologies.
“The value chain for payments is convoluted,” said Daniel Shin, co-founder of Terra. “There are six or seven players, and everyone takes a cut. We streamline the process.”
The relationship with CHAI is central to Terra’s strategy, as is the Alliance the company is building. Shin wants crypto be usable and used and believes that the best way to achieve that is to have the front end be simple and intuitive and to give the consumer many ready options for spending. The power of the blockchain and the coin are kept mainly in the background.
“For crypto to be a currency, it needs to be widely accepted for exchange. I don’t think bitcoin fits that definition of a currency,” Shin argues. “We give consumers access to everything they consume, one partner in each vertical. Obviously, music is one.”
Terra, as Terraform Labs, is a Singapore company with a strong interest in Southeast Asia, but it has a clear Korean connection and a clear Korea strategy. But like many companies with strong links to the country, it has been begun to work overseas in part because of domestic regulations that have made developing local crypto all but impossible.
“I think Korea has the opportunity to lead globally, but the lawmakers have not given clarity. Everything is murky and uncertain. Giving clarity will be helpful for the sector,” Shin said.
He noted that in countries like the US, if something is not illegal, it can be done. In Korea, if it is not explicitly legal, it should not even be attempted. The government must give clear consent or nothing happens. So far, the signals have been mixed, and the areas open for business have been limited. But Shin has noticed some movement in this respect with the growing understanding on the part of the authorities that crypto is needed.
“Before, it was crypto ‘no’, blockchain ‘yes’,” he said. “Now it is more like blockchain ‘yes’, private crypto ‘yes’, public and listed crypto ‘no’.”