Japanese and U.S. users of the Line messaging app won’t be able to use the platform’s new cryptocurrency following the announcement last week.
That’s initially anyway. Last Friday, the Japanese company announced that it was launching its first digital token, Link. It revealed that it was also introducing its first blockchain network, Link Chain. At the time, it said:
LINE plans to register LINK exclusively on its global digital asset exchange BITBOX in September, where the new cryptocurrency will be distributed to users.
In July, BITBOX opened in Singapore; however, it has yet to receive approval from the Financial Services Agency (FSA).
Notably, unlike other crypto tokens, Line stated that it wouldn’t be conducting an initial coin offering (ICO). Now, though, it seems Japanese and American users won’t be able to use its new currency to begin with. According to a report from Quartz, this is down to licensing requirements.
Recent estimates put Line’s Japanese users at 75 million in Q1 ’18, a two million increase from Q4 ’17. It also has around 200 million monthly users. It remains to be seen what impact, if any, this will have on the company. The company announced in January that it was planning on entering the crypto space. This is to fend off competition from the likes of Facebook.
Japan’s Relationship with Crypto
Last year, the country officially recognized Bitcoin as a form of legal tender. Following that, it was considered as a crypto-friendly nation. However, since the hack at Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck, the country’s financial watchdog has taken a firm approach to the industry.
As a result, the FSA has issued business improvement orders at several crypto exchanges. This has seen a number with pending licenses voluntarily withdraw their applications for approval. A few that have ceased their operations in the country include Kraken, Mr. Exchange, and Tokyo GateWay.
Despite the stricter approach, the country’s new FSA commissioner, Toshihide Endo, did say something positive last month, according to Reuters. He said:
We have no intention to curb (the crypto industry) excessively. We would like to see it grow under appropriate regulation.
It remains to be seen whether BITBOX gets its license approved. For now, though, its Link Points will stand-in for the Line tokens, reports Quartz. According to Line, the tokens will be used as “a reward system that gives users LINK as compensation for using certain services within the LINE ecosystem.”
What do you think of US and Japanese customers not being able to use LINK? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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