Japan chat app Line to launch cryptocurrency exchange

Line creates financial subsidiary to create and provide cryptocurrency, insurance and loans services

With regard to the virtual currency related business, the company already started the application process for registration as a virtual currency exchanger, and it's now under review by the Financial Services Agency.

The theft on Friday of JPY 58 billion ($532.84 million) of NEM coins from Coincheck has highlighted the security vulnerabilities in trading an asset that global policymakers are struggling to regulate.

Established on January 10, the new company follows the launch of LINE Pay - a mobile money transfer and payment service available on the LINE messaging app. LINE Financial would serve as a base for LINE to provide various financial services, including cryptocurrency exchange services. With 40 million registered users, the digital wallet's annual global transaction volume reached ¥450 billion (around $4 billion) previous year, the company said. The attack, the world's biggest ever cyberheist, prompted Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) to open up an investigation into all cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.

Japan saw huge growth in cryptocurrency trading a year ago as the value of digital coins exploded.

The move underscores how Japan has become one of Asia's most friendly jurisdictions for cryptocurrencies, particularly as China and South Korea have been cracking down on them.

The app, known for electronic stickers of a brown bear and his rabbit girlfriend, is ubiquitous in Japan, Line also has a strong presence in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

Line added that it intends to "promote research and development of technologies such as blockchain" with the creation of its new financial offering.

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