Line Corp, the operator of Line, the most popular messaging app in Japan, is working on integrating cryptocurrency into their business model. The messaging app has 168 million monthly active users in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia, and it dominates these markets. It appears that Line will team up with Upbit, a bitcoin exchange in South Korea.
Line, also referred to as LINE, is a freeware app, allowing instant communication on smartphones, tablets and personal computers. The users exchange texts, images, video and audio, while they can also have free VoIP conversations and video conferences.
Line Pay, also referred to as LINE Pay, is the existing payment support system already within Line, where the users can enter their credit card details. Payment process is secure, adheres to global and industry-specific compliance standards, and can only be carried out if the user enters Line Pay password. The system also virtual currency, using which the users can purchase game credits and the well-known super expressive stickers introduced by Line. The planned move to integrate cryptocurrency seems to be to engage users by giving them options to pay for services with increasingly popular cryptocurrency, and keep them within the ecosystem nurtured by Line.
From the reports that so far emerged, it appears that Line does not plan to launch its own cryptocurrency. It also emerged that Line is discussing with multiple players in the blockchain space, about the use of blockchain technology to introduce other products and services.
Line is a Japanese subsidiary of the South Korean Internet search company Naver Corporation. Line had a very successful IPO in 2016. Line seems to have had issues with engaging users, seen from the fact that they have lost some users since the IPO, evident from their claim of 218 million users before IPO and 203 million as of October 2017. Their move into cryptocurrency is aimed at increasing user engagement. Upbit is a fast-growing cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, with over 120 cryptocurrencies listed. Upbit has been launched by Kakao Corporation, which operates the most popular chat app in South Korea, Kakao Talk.
The reported move from Line confirms the growing trend of technology companies increasingly looking to integrate blockchain and cryptocurrency into their business model, like Telegram or Kodak are planning. This growing trend of their foray into blockchain and cryptocurrency is in spite of some of the national governments viewing cryptocurrencies with apprehension. For e.g. the regulators in South Korea, the very home country of Upbit, are considering regulating cryptocurrency, and proposals on the table include outright ban on trading in cryptocurrency.