Discover how Romania is pioneering Web3 integration with the launch of ICI D|Services, a national NFT trading platform developed by ICI Bucharest, aiming to bridge the gap between public and private sector institutions while fostering innovation and economic growth.
As the world accelerates towards Web3 integration and blockchain technology adoption, Romania is taking a bold step forward by introducing a national nonfungible token (NFT) trading platform. Developed by the National Institute for Research and Development in Informatics (ICI Bucharest), the institutional NFT platform, dubbed ICI D|Services, aims to bridge the gap between public and private sector institutions and users. With the scheduled launch on April 26, Romania is set to become a frontrunner in the Web3 era, fostering innovation and boosting its economic potential.
The National Institute for Research and Development in Informatics (ICI Bucharest) is set to propel Romania into the Web3 era by introducing an exclusive nonfungible token (NFT) trading platform.
The institutional NFT platform, known as ICI D|Services, is scheduled to go live on April 26, with the goal of bridging the gap between public and private sector institutions and users. As an NFT marketplace, the platform will enable public and institutional users to create, manage, and trade NFTs.
ICI Bucharest’s Blockchain Laboratory Coordinator, Dr. Paul Niculescu-Mizil Gheorghe, spoke to Cointelegraph about the motivation behind Romania’s push to adopt Web3-enabled technologies.
Over the past five years, ICI Bucharest has primarily focused on research and development but has recently shifted its attention to blockchain, Web3, and nonfungible tokens as the field gains global momentum.
Gheorghe highlights the increasing popularity of NFTs in recent years due to their ability to generate unique and scarce digital assets with diverse applications. This has made NFTs valuable assets for institutions, leading to the proposal of the NFT platform within ICI Bucharest in late 2021.
ICI Bucharest began developing and implementing the marketplace system’s architecture in collaboration with MultiversX in mid-2022, marking their first strategic project utilizing the blockchain infrastructure provider.
The partnership also encompasses the creation of a decentralized Domain Name System (DNS) and Top-Level Domain (TLD) ecosystem, as explained by MultiversX CEO Beniamin Mincu in communication with Cointelegraph.
Gheorghe, who holds a PhD in Blockchain Technology and Industrial Engineering, states that the project has received support from the Romanian Government through the Secretariat-General and the Romanian Ministry of Research, Innovation, and Digitalization:
“Our institute aims to establish a connection between young generations and the values of public institutions, initiating a comfortable space for interaction within the digital realm.”
The platform’s launch will showcase five distinctive NFT collections developed in partnership with several renowned Romanian athletes, organizations, and institutions.
Collaborators include the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee, world record holder in the 100-meter freestyle swim David Popovici, Romanian news agency Agerpres, national philately organization Romfilatelia, and Bucharest’s Central University Library.
Gheorghe asserts that the Romanian government’s support for innovative projects like ICI D|Services bolsters the country’s economic potential by generating new revenue streams, promoting economic growth, and fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship:
“Blockchain technology enhances institutional efficiency, enabling solid use cases based on digital asset management, transparency, and security in various institutional operations, such as education, health, transport, land registration, and supply chain management.”
Mincu reiterates these points, emphasizing the Romanian government’s dedication to adopting technology and creating new opportunities for interaction between citizens, businesses, and institutions.
Romania’s Blockchain and Crypto Landscape
Romania has made significant strides in the global blockchain and crypto arena, with the government adopting blockchain technology for parliamentary elections in December 2020. This move aimed to ensure the integrity and transparency of the electoral process, providing tamper-proof, real-time voter data. At the time, Romania was the first EU country to employ blockchain-based voting tools for national elections.
The Romanian population, however, began embracing blockchain technology earlier, as individuals started purchasing Bitcoin for investment or payment purposes. A 2018 study by iSense Solutions reported that 57% of urban Romanians had heard of cryptocurrencies, with 8% having made crypto purchases. Bitcoin emerged as the most popular digital currency, with 30% of respondents believing cryptocurrencies represented the future of payments.
An ING international survey from September 2019, titled “From Cash to Crypto: The Money Revolution,” revealed that 12% of Romanians owned crypto, a higher percentage than respondents from France or Germany. At this time, Romanian interest in crypto was the highest in Europe.
Fast forward to 2022, a recent study examining Romanian cryptocurrency awareness and ownership showed significant changes. A staggering 96% of Romanian internet-connected adults aged 18-55 were familiar with cryptocurrencies. Additionally, out of 10 people who had heard of cryptocurrencies, four either owned or had owned them, and eight planned to purchase cryptocurrencies in the future. The study also found that men (43%) were more interested in crypto than women (34%), and crypto holders typically had personal incomes exceeding €1,130 per month.
Bitcoin remained the most well-known and widely used cryptocurrency among Romanians, with 65% of crypto holders having Bitcoin in their portfolios. Other popular cryptocurrencies included Ethereum (35%) and Dogecoin (24%). The Elrond coin, launched by a Romanian company, had a lower incidence (8%).
Internet searches (47%) and social media (23%) were the primary sources of cryptocurrency information for those familiar with the term. Specialized websites (41%) and financial banking consultants (21%) were the main channels for obtaining investment advice. Only 15% would directly access automated software or algorithms, particularly those who owned or had owned cryptocurrencies.
Despite 65% of crypto owners agreeing that the crypto ecosystem represents the future of payment methods, trust remains crucial for transactions. As such, 45% of internet users aged 18-55 expressed a desire for Romanian banks to offer crypto services.