Line preparing to enter bitcoin trade in Japan

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Line preparing to enter bitcoin trade in Japan

Line, the developer of Japan’s most popular chat app, will enter the cryptocurrency, insurance and lending business with a subsidiary called Line Financial and capital of 5 billion yen ($46 million), its Korean owner said Wednesday.

Naver, the Korean-based owner of Line, said the company recently applied for a license to operate a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan and the government is currently screening the application.

The move reflects Line’s strategy to strengthen its services in markets where it already has dominance rather than expanding to other countries. If its application passes Japanese regulators, Line sets out to integrate its messaging app with the cryptocurrency trading service.

“Line will use this new company as a base as it proceeds with preparations to provide a variety of financial services, including a place to exchange and transact cryptocurrencies, loans and insurance - all from the Line app - and will continue to grow its financial business,” the company said in a statement.

Line appeared to be aware of concerns in Japan about security after hackers made off with $530 million in a relatively unknown cryptocurrency last month. The breach occurred at a Japanese exchange called Coincheck.

“In addition to the high level of security that Line has cultivated for use in its day-to-day messages, the company aims to actively promote research and development of technologies such as blockchain and provide a financial service that is convenient and safe to users,” it said.

The company is already involved in mobile payments through its app Line Pay and partnerships with financial firms. It has been working with asset management firm Folio to provide services through its chat app.

Both Naver and Line declined to specify what kind of insurance and lending services Line Financial might provide.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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