On Friday (31 August 2018), LINE Corporation, a Japanese subsidiary of the South Korean internet search giant Naver Corporation and the developer of "LINE", one of the world's most popular messaging apps with more than 200 million active monthly users, announced that it has launched its first cryptocurrency (LINK) and blockchain network (LINK Chain). In its press release, LINE pointed out that both of these were built independently by LINE and that with this launch it becomes "one of the largest and most-established companies to develop and issue a cryptocurrency."
Rather than make an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), LINK uses a reward system that gives users LINK tokens for their participation in the LINE ecosystem. These tokens can then be used for payment within the DApp services that LINE is planning to launch in the near future and for service categories, such as content, commerce, and social gaming, within the LINE ecosystem.
Here are some examples of how LINK may be used in various service categories:
- content (e.g. payment for music)
- commerce (e.g. payment for products/services)
- social (e.g. for wire transfers between individuals)
- gaming (e.g. for character enhancements)
- exchange (e.g. for for payment of commissions at BITBOX)
In September, LINK tokens will be listed for trading on LINE-owned Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange BITBOX, which began operations on 16 July 2018. This will provide users with an alternative method for getting hold of LINK tokens, and it will allow them to trade LINK for other cryptocurrencies. LINK token holders will enjoy various benefits on BITBOX, such as discounted trading fees.
LINK is the native token of the LINK Chain blockchain, with the Genesis Block created on 23 August 2018. LINK Chain is "a service-oriented blockchain network that enables dApps to be directly applied to the LINE messaging platform."
Takeshi Idezawa, LINE's CEO said:
“Over the last seven years, LINE was able to grow into a global service because of our users, and now with LINK, we wanted to build a user-friendly reward system that gives back to our users... With LINK, we would like to continue developing as a user participation-based platform, one that rewards and shares added value through the introduction of easy-to-use dApps for people’s daily lives.”
LINK will have a total supply of one billion; these will be released gradually, depending on how the ecosystem develops. 800 million of these tokens will be for user rewards and 200 million wil be held in reserve by LINE Tech Plus.
Until LINE gets approval from Japan's financial regulator, users resident in Japan will be receiving LINK Point instead of LINK as reward for activities in DApp services; they will be able to either use these within DApp services or exchange them for LINE points.