Japanese messaging giant Line is close to receiving a licence from the local financial regulator for its upcoming cryptocurrency exchange, Bloomberg has reported.
Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the newswire reported that Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) could issue the licence as early as this month, while the exchange would start operating a few weeks later. One of the sources said that the platform, which will be called BitMax, would enable Line’s user base to buy and sell digital currencies including the company’s own token Link. Line has 80 million users in Japan.
Cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan have to register with the FSA in order to operate in the country. The watchdog has ramped up its efforts to regulate the sector following the $530-million hack of local exchange Coincheck in early 2018. As noted by industry website Coindesk, as of March this year, only 19 exchanges had received licences from the FSA. Among those waiting for the watchdog’s approval is the largest Us digital currency exchange, Coinbase.
Almost a year ago, Line launched BitBox, a digital currency trading service for the Singapore market. The upcoming Japan-based exchange will use the same technology as the Singapore-based platform, one of Bloomberg’s sources said.
Meanwhile, Line is waiting for a banking licence in Japan, which will allow it to integrate digital currencies with its other services such as online shopping. According to one of the sources, that is unlikely to be issued this year.
The report comes just a day after US tech giant Facebook, the world’s largest social network company, which owns popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, announced that it was developing its own cryptocurrency, called Libra. With this move, Facebook becomes the latest traditional tech company with aspirations to tap into the crypto sector. Earlier this year, The FSA gave an operating licence for a crypto trading service by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten.
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