Japan’s largest messaging service Line is opening a cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore as early as July. The exchange will be known as Bitbox. The company has already applied for a license to operate a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan.
About 30 cryptocurrencies will be on offer among them Bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum and litecoin but will not handle fiat. The platform will reportedly be available in 15 languages. US and Japanese users are however excluded. The website will be linked to an app later in the year.
Line Corp is seeking to diversify its revenue streams from its core advertising business. Line is among several large businesses in Japan positioning themselves to reap from the lucrative cryptocurrency market. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the fourth largest bank in the world has similar interests.
Monex Group, another Japanese financial services firm recently acquired Coincheck cryptocurrency exchange as an entry point.
Other messaging platforms like Telegram are also in the space. Telegram, for example, raised $1.7 from the sale of its own tokens.
Facebook also has a team looking into blockchain although its plans are not yet public.
According to the Chief Executive Officer Takeshi Idezawa, the company intends to put blockchain at the centre of the company’s offerings which include commerce and entertainment, Bloomberg reports.
Line messaging app, which is similar to WhatApp is particularly popular in Asia. It has an estimated user base of about 200 million. Line’s payment service is estimated to have 40 million users.
This user base has however been declining and facing serious competition from the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger hence the need to diversify.
Singapore is seen as a more favourable destination for cryptocurrency businesses for its perceived openness. Japan recognises cryptocurrencies but enforces some of the strictest regulations in the world. Exchanges are required to put in place strict AML and KYC safeguards with regulators conducting regular inspections.
Privacy coins like Zcash, Dash and Monero have been recently banned.
Only last, the Financial Services agency issued improvement orders to six exchanges over weak anti-money laundering controls.
Such measures often result in serious dips in the highly volatile market.
Total cryptocurrency market capitalisation is now about a third of its value in January.