[THE INVESTOR] Japan’s largest messaging app operator Line announced on Jan. 31 that it has launched a subsidiary to expand its financial services including launching a cryptocurrency exchange.
The Tokyo and US-listed firm said in a statement that it has launched Line Financial and its application for registering a cryptocurrency exchange is under review by Japan’s financial authorities.
“We plan to provide various financial services including cryptocurrency trade, loans and insurance,” the statement said.
The Japanese subsidiary of Korea‘s internet giant Naver is the latest internet company to make a foray into the virtual currency space which regulators are trying to rein in.
Some experts said this move by Line combined with other Korea internet giants’ initiatives indicates their expectations for new opportunities in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology despite the government’s attempt to clamp down on the crypto market.
Kakao, operator of Korea’s most popular messenger KakaoTalk, invested in fintech startup Dunamu in 2013 and currently holds 25.85 percent stake in the startup. Dunamu operates cryptocurrency exchange Upbit, which has become No. 1 in the country in terms of transaction volume, according to CoinMarketCap data.
NXC, the holding company of Nexon, Korea’s games behemoth, acquired 65.19 percent stake in cryptocurrency exchange Korbit for more than US$150 million in September 2017.
“Naver’s Lee Hae-jin, Kakao’s Kim Beon-su and Nexon’s Kim Jung-ju, the first generation of tech startups in the country, couldn’t be more sensitive when it comes to cutting-edge technology and new investments,” said an industry source. “It is therefore very meaningful that these three jumped into the crypto market.”
However, some global tech companies are keeping a distance from crypto-related businesses. Earlier this week, Facebook said it has banned all cryptocurrency-related advertisements on its platform. Google has begun cracking down on malicious crypto advertisements although its scope is not as wide as Facebook’s move.
Line has 168 million monthly active users, according to the company, and is one of the most popular messenger apps in Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan.
By Park Ga-young (email@example.com)