Date
20 February 2018
Line Corp has established a unit that will run a cryptocurrency exchange and also offer other financial services. Photo: Bloomberg
Line Corp has established a unit that will run a cryptocurrency exchange and also offer other financial services. Photo: Bloomberg

Japan chat app Line to launch cryptocurrency exchange

Line Corp, which runs Japan’s most popular messaging app, has announced plans to expand into a variety of financial services, including cryptocurrency trading.

The Tokyo-based firm said on Wednesday that it has established a new financial services division, Line Financial Corp, which will offer products such as loans and insurance and also operate a virtual-currency exchange.

It said an application has been lodged with Japan’s Financial Services Agency for a license to open a cryptocurrency exchange, and that the proposal is currently under review.

In a statement, Line said it will operate within its messaging app “a place to exchange and transact virtual currencies, loans, and insurance.”

In addition, it said it “aims to actively promote research and development of technologies such as blockchain.”

Once the cryptocurrency trading platform gets underway, expanding the operations to Hong Kong and Luxembourg could be Line’s next step, Bloomberg cited sources as saying.

Line is also considering applications of blockchain technology in countries with under-developed financial infrastructure to enable services such as utility bill payment via mobile phone, according to the report.

The Japanese firm’s planned foray into cryptocurrency-related business comes despite the woes of Coincheck, a Tokyo-based virtual currency exchange that recently lost US$530 million due to a hacking incident.

“We should be aware of the need to balance between communicating, to beginners or inexperienced users, the value of these financial products and the risks they entail,” a Line spokeswoman told Reuters.

Best known for its cartoon characters and selling stickers within its app, Line already operates a mobile transfer and payment service, Line Pay, which claims 40 million users.

Following the announcement Wednesday of new financial services plans, Line’s shares jumped as much as 4 percent in early afternoon trading in Tokyo, before paring some gains later in the session.

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BN/RC

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