Line Corp Close to Launching Cryptocurrency Exchange

Neil Dennis

Line Corp, the Japanese messaging business, is just days away from being granted a domestic license to launch a new cryptocurrency exchange, according to reports on Thrusday.

report by Bloomberg suggested Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) could issue the license as early as this month, according to "people familiar with the matter".

The exchange, to be called BitMax, could then begin operating within weeks - allowing Line's 80 million Japanese users to trade crpytocurrencies, Bloomberg's unnamed sources said.

The sources said BitMax would be using the same back-end technology as BitBox, a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange that Line established for worldwide users last year. The regulatory issues with licensing, however, prevents Japanese users from trading on BitBox.

Line has applied for a separate banking license which has been pending since last year. In November 2018 the subsidiary Line Financial said it had agreed to establish a joint venture with Mizuho Financial Group to launch a new bank.

Line is among a growing number of tech and social media groups to branch out into cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this week, Facebook made a major impact with its announcement that it was to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra and a crypto-asset wallet called Calibra.

Meanwhile Yahoo Japan Corp has alread launched its own cryptocurrency exchange having received its FSA license earlier this year.

AmazonPay, which would be the most likely to go down a similar route in the Amazon universe, said earlier this month it may consider such a move a few years down the line.

Patrick Gaulthier, vice president of Amazon Pay, said at a conference on June 10:

At Amazon, we deal with data a lot, so I’ll be happy to have that conversation two or three years from now

Line already has its own native token called Link, which trades on BitBox.

Having received media requests on Thursday for more information on its Japanese exchange business plans, Line issued the following statement on its website:

Some media have reported that LINE Corporation (“LINE”) will launch a crypto currency business in Japan. However, this is not an official announcement from LINE, and no such decision has been made

Statement to the Media