Japanese messaging giant to launch global crypto exchange

Masayuki Tashiro , 08 Jul 2018 - BitboxExchangesLine

Japan’s leading messenger application operator, Line Corporation has announced plans to launch a global cryptocurrency exchange ‘BitBox’ in July

With trading fees of 0.1% Line says BitBox will be crypto to crypto only (no fiat pairs) with more than 30 cryptocurrencies tradable including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin. Target users for BitBox will be global the company says, with support in 15 languages, although accounts from Japan and United States will not be accepted.

Line began operations in Japan in April 2013 with its core business being an instant messaging app that expands the basic text services offered by competitors like WhatsApp and Telegram, offering additional features including stickers, social games and video calling.

Statista lists Line as having 203 million active users across Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia — significantly less than major competitors Facebook Messenger and Wechat. It is, however, a leader in innovating the monetization of messaging apps, with revenues of $1.61 billion in 2017, selling products like digital stickers over the service via microtransactions.

Mainstream awareness for Line came during its 2016 US-Japanese IPO, that raised close to $1.14 billion. This made Line the biggest IPO in the United States for the first half of 2016.

The Bitbox cryptocurrency exchange will be an extension to the growing Line ecosystem. The company appears committed to a rapid expansion of its blockchain services and established the Line Blockchain Lab in April — dedicated to researching and developing blockchain technology, as well as developing and providing applied services, for the Japanese market.

In April, the company also established Unblock, a subsidiary specializing in blockchain technology, in South Korea.

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Line’s announcement of its own crypto exchange and the fact that Japanese clients will not be able to use it comes on the heels of the June 22nd statement from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) ordering six leading cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan, including bitFlyer and Bitbank to reform their business practices.

This has prompted leading cryptocurrency-related companies in Japan to review their internal control systems and restructure self-regulatory organizations in the industry.

About the author 

Masayuki Tashiro is the President & CEO of FISCO Digital Asset Group. He has worked as an analyst providing assessments on futures, options, cash equity, and overall market and index movement since 2010 and currently works as an analyst with a focus on cryptocurrencies. He holds a Master of Financial Technical Analysis and is a regular commentator on the Nikkei CNBC television channel, and a frequent contributor to economic magazines such as Forbes Japan.