Blockchain builder Ava Labs partners with Korea’s SK Planet to expand Asia footprint

Ava Labs, a company that launched the layer-1 blockchain Avalanche, has partnered with SK Planet, a data management and marketing platform unit of South Korean company SK Square. SK Planet will launch Avalanche Subnet UPTN to offer web3 infrastructure in South Korea. 

The partnership comes less than a month after the New York-based digital asset firm hired its first new heads in Asia in service of accelerating its footprint in the region. The move also follows Ava Labs’ partnership with Tencent Cloud in February to help scale blockchain adoption across traditional enterprises. 

Ava Labs has worked with the developer community in South Korea for years to help them understand and build on the Avalanche network, John Nahas, vice president of business development at Ava Labs, told TechCrunch. Still, the latest partnership with SK Planet will be a cornerstone of its strategy in the region, Nahas added. 

“This is our first marquee partnership with a top South Korean enterprise, and the partnership will be a cornerstone of our growth plans in the market,” Nahas said to TechCrunch. 

SK Square, the parent company of SK Planet, was spun off from South Korean telco giant SK Telecom. Just last week, Ava Labs sealed a partnership deal with SK Planet and hosted an Avalanche Day with Korean developers and other partners. 

SK Planet is launching its Avalanche Subnet, UPTN, and will start deploying numerous SK applications and services on the Subnet, Nahas said, adding that potential additional Subnets are forthcoming. The Avalanche Subnet UPTN will let SK Planet customers and merchants use digital collectibles, web3 wallets, decentralized communities and more. 

One such application is SK Planets’ OK Cashbag, a membership reward program enabling customers to earn points via using the OK Cashbag app. Customers can use the points as cash across retail shops, from restaurants to hotels, movie theaters, retail financial apps and more. SK Planet claims it has tens of millions of OK Cashbag users, nearly half the South Korean population, and works with 90,000 merchant partners. 

“The UPTN will serve as the platform for the web3 initiative of all apps of SK’s information and communication technology (ICT) business division and will also be the managed service provider (MSP) for infrastructure in NFT mining, web3 community growth and management — similar to Avalanche’s recent Shopify/Venly and TYB partnerships,” Nahas continued.

Avalanche has more than 100 Subnets currently under development and in the test phase. Its Subnets allow individuals and enterprises to build customized, app-specific blockchains for their use cases. 

“Ava Labs is fully committed to supporting South Korea’s buyers and merchants as they explore the unique benefits of the Avalanche ecosystem,” said Emin Gün Sirer, CEO of Ava Labs, in a statement. “We see this new partnership between Ava Labs, the Avalanche Foundation, and SK Planet as an incredible opportunity to not only meet South Korea’s enormous appetite for Web3 experiences but expand what’s possible in 21st-century e-commerce.”