While global regulators and governments were focused on Facebook’s Libra project, Japan’s largest social networking messaging site “LINE” was quietly introducing their own cryptocurrency. Available since 2018, Line’s currency is called Link and has not been available in the Japanese or United States markets due to government regulation in its country of origin.
Other Social Giants
Other social media sites are trying to promote their own digital currencies, including Telegram and Facebook, with challenges and growing pains in recent months. Regulatory issues confound Telegram despite the Russian social media network raising more than a billion dollars so far to attain market legitimacy.
Facebook’s Libra also faces impediments, with countries and collaborators, including telecoms giant Vodafone, pushing back against the global social media giant’s currency plans and leaving the strategic launch. The European Central Bank (ECB) is openly calling on its member banks to find alternatives to Libra.
LINE Regulatory Approval
LINE has officially launched a cryptocurrency exchange service for its 80 million users based in Japan, days after the platform received final regulatory approval.
According to CoinDesk the Japanese messaging provider, which is 73.36-percent owned by South Korea’s Naver, said in a statement on Tuesday that the new exchange, dubbed Bitmax, is now live with trading of five crypto assets: bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), ripple (XRP), bitcoin cash (BCH) and litecoin (LTC).
According to the statement, the service was introduced in stages from 3 p.m. Japan time on Tuesday and is available first on Android devices. It can be accessed via the wallet tab on the LINE mobile app and is also integrated with LINE Pay to provide an easier Japanese yen fiat on-ramp process.
81 million Japanese
LINE said in the announcement it currently has 81 million monthly active users in Japan and 164 million globally. It operates the crypto exchange through LVC Corporation, a subsidiary, which was awarded a cryptocurrency exchange license by Japan’s Financial Services Agency on Sept. 6.
Forbes states that the move by LINE was especially important as the app, which boasts 81 million users, has achieved the full backing of the Japanese Financial Services Agency, the watchdog that has cracked down on exchanges in the country following the hacks of Mt. Gox and Coincheck.
LINE have moved fast with their own blockchain, token, and now exchange, but this is all part of their ongoing plans to be well placed for the next technological fintech wave that will include both cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.