Rakuten has launched what it calls a 'borderless currency' and says 'the role of crypto-currency-based payments ... will grow in the future.' Photo: AFP/Behrouz Mehri

Line Corporation, the Japanese company listed on both the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the NYSE and whose messaging app is popular in multiple Asian countries, has launched its first crypto token.

The token and its supporting blockchain platform are both called Link and, according to Line Corp, because of the size and strength of its existing network user base – said to be about 200 million users – it has taken the rare step of launching the platform without following an ICO process, the usual path for a crypto-currency roll-out.

According to Quatrz, licensing requirements will initially prevent Line launching the token to its Japanese and American customers. The delay in Japan is said to be because the crypto exchange Line has chosen to exclusively list its Link tokens, the Singaporean-based BitBox, has yet to gain approval from the country’s ’s financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency.

If this situation lasts it could prove to be an issue for Line as 75 million of its monthly active users are based in Japan.

However, Line appears to have the go ahead to launch the Link platform in its other key Asian markets, which include Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia, and says the tokens will be used to build a rewards-based “token economy.”

“Over the last seven years, Line was able to grow into a global service because of our users, and now with Link, we wanted to build a user-friendly reward system that gives back to our users,” said Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa. “With Link, we would like to continue developing as a user participation-based platform, one that rewards and shares added value through the introduction of easy-to-use dApps for people’s daily lives.”

Line says a total of one billion Link tokens will be gradually issued and these will be used: to access music, videos and cartoon web content; as a payment device for network products, services and promotions; for in-app payments and payments between network individuals; for gaming to facilitate in-game payments; and as the trading currency on the BITBOX exchange.

The Line news followed an announcement from another established Japanese online giant.

On Friday Japanese e-commerce and internet conglomerate Rakuten announced the acquisition of the Tokyo-based Everybody’s Bitcoin cypto exchange. This follows the launch of the Rautken Coin earlier this year, that the conglomerate says is a “borderless currency” that synchs with the company’s existing global loyalty program, called Super Points, that boasts more than one billion members and operates in more than 20 countries.

It’s another crypto-focused idea from Rakuten – that is often called “the Japanese Amazon” and offers a suite of e-commerce, fintech, digital content and wireless communications services – as it increasingly places digital currencies and blockchain at the heart of its network.

“In order to provide crypto-currency payments methods smoothly, we believe it is necessary for us to provide a crypto-currency exchange function,” Rakuten said in a statement that announced the Everybody’s Bitcoin exchange buyout, adding that it believed “the role of crypto-currency-based payments in e-commerce, offline retail and in P2P payments will grow in the future.”

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