Messaging giant LINE close to securing Japanese regulator’s approval to launch crypto exchange

Japanese messaging giant LINE is likely to get regulatory approval to launch a cryptocurrency exchange in the country, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) could grant the license as early as this month, “people familiar with the matter” told the news agency.

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The pending exchange, called BitMax, will reportedly start operations a few weeks after receiving the license. BitMax will allow LINE’s 80 million users in Japan to trade cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin and the giant’s own token Link, according to the report. It would be LINE's second crypto exchange, having launched Bitbox in Singapore in July 2018.

The firm initially started as a messaging app but has gradually been moving into the fintech space to turn profitable. Earlier this month, LINE’s digital wallet LINE Pay partnered with Visa to create new financial services for their app customers, including blockchain-based solutions, cross-border payments, and “alternative currency payments.”

The company is also awaiting a separate banking license in Japan that is unlikely to be issued until next year, according to Bloomberg. In addition, LINE reportedly aims to enter into stock brokerage and banking services in the near future.