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Japanese chat giant Line launches its cryptocurrency exchange – but not in Japan

Hopefully it has better security than rival Coincheck


Months after announcing it in January, Japanese messaging giant Line has finally opened their new cryptocurrency exchange – everywhere except Japan and North America.

BITBOX is now hosting trade in around 30 coins, sans fiat trading for the time being. No hint as to a date proposed to support local currencies, or even in which country they would be offered.

They have interestingly opted for Tether (USDT) as it’s ‘stablecoin‘ of choice – mirroring other major platforms who operate primarily without the support of a financial institution. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash are currently the only coins with direct trade to USDT.

The cryptocurrency exchange will serve as the flagship platform of the company’s new division, the Line Financial Corporation. The last official Line service to launch was Line Pay, which has grown to over 40 million registered users. Its global transaction volume has hit $4.1 billion since opening in 2014.

Whether or not BITBOX will succeed in leveraging the 200 million monthly active users currently using the Line messaging app is really up in the air. Line Pay had the considerable advantage of being fully integrated with the messenger. That, and it was actually available in Japan.

The launch also reveals a big win for security firm BitGo, whose technology will power the exchange’s hot and cold wallets.

All eyes will surely be on the effectiveness of their large scale storage solutions. After all, it was the hack of fellow Japan-native Coincheck – still the world’s biggest theft – that kickstarted the wave of government crackdowns responsible for the ironic exclusion of Line’s primary market in today’s launch.

Published July 16, 2018 — 10:10 UTC