Line close to securing Japanese license for crypto exchange

Japanese messaging app Line is close to securing a cryptocurrency license from Japanese regulators, ahead of plans to launch a cryptocurrency exchange for its users in the country.

The app, which has over 80 million users in Japan, is reported to be on the verge of winning regulatory approval for the coveted license, with confirmation expected as early as this month, Bloomberg reported quoting sources familiar with the process.

The regulatory clearance would pave the way for Line to launch its BitMax crypto exchange platform, which will open crypto trading facilities to its extensive, mainstream user base in Japan for the first time.

Line launched its first cryptocurrency exchange last year in Singapore, known as BitBox. The platform has proved popular with users there, but previously excluded users in Japan on the grounds of a lack of necessary regulatory approval.

Now, with the Financial Services Agency (FSA) poised to approve Line’s application for a crypto license, the firm is preparing to roll-out a similar offering for customers in Japan.

The approval will set Line amongst elite competition in Japan, following the introduction of a new, more stringent licensing regime for cryptocurrency exchanges.

As of March, a total of only 19 licenses had been issued, reflecting the significant compliance burden for those striving to secure the right to operate in the country. As a result, a number of exchanges have been forced out of the Japanese market.

The new, tougher regime was introduced in the wake of the Coincheck hack in January 2018, with saw some $530 million stolen by hackers as a result of gaps in security. Coincheck itself went on to secure a license on the new, stricter application criteria earlier this year.

With access to an existing mainstream audience in Japan, the launch of the Line platform could introduce cryptocurrency to tens of millions of users for the first time.

The news comes alongside a pending banking license application, with Line hoping for approval next year. This would open up further functionality in future, including crypto payments for ecommerce and other services.

The launch is expected to drive a new wave of user interest in cryptocurrencies, with many Line users provided with access to crypto markets for the first time.

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