Messaging App Viber Considers Launching Its Own Cryptocurrency in Russia Next Year

  • Popular messaging app Viber is mulling launching its own cryptocurrency in Russia next year.
  • The company is studying the country's laws on the subject.

Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten, the parent company of popular cross-platform messaging app Viber, has recently revealed it’s studying Russian laws, as it is considering launching its own cryptocurrency in the country next year.

According to news outlet TASS, Viber’s chief executive officer Djamel Agaoua, the messaging app will be a key player in helping Rakuten establish its own cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency, dubbed Rakuten Coin, will be launched based on an existing loyalty program announced in February this year.

Agaoua was quoted as saying:

Our mother company is creating Rakuten Coin: cryptocurrency, which is supported by the entire Rakuten ecosystem…. This Rakuten Coin will be tradeable in Viber.

Djamel Agaoua

The CEO noted that users will be able to trade Rakuten Coins for fiat currencies like dollars, euros, and rubles, provided Russian laws allow the company to offer said features. Allowing users to transfer their funds to their bank accounts is also being planned, he revealed.

Notably Viber itself is said to have over 1 billion users, 45 million of which are active in Russia every month. The app isn’t leading the market in the US and Western Europe, but is said to dominate the VoIP landscape in Eastern Europe and Russia, one of its top markets.

Per Zephrin Lasker, head of the company’s e-commerce venture, the company also plans on launching an e-commerce platform in Russia in the fourth quarter of this year, a move that will presumably help bolster Rakuten Coin’s adoption.

It’s worth noting Russian authorities haven’t been too fond of cryptocurrencies in the past. As CryptoGlobe reported, a crypto news outlet was banned in the country for being considered “a means of virtual payment and accumulation.” While the ban was overturned by Russia’s Supreme Court, a precedent was set.

Cryptocurrencies aren’t an authorized payment method in the country, which has considered issuing its own “CryptoRuble” in the past. Its views on the cryptocurrency ecosystem may be lightening up, however, as payments service Qiwi recently announced the launch of the “first crypto investment bank in Russia.”