Line, the popular messaging app for mobile gaming and other communities, launched a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan today. The exchange is currently only live for Japanese users – who number more than 80 million.
The user base makes Line’s new exchange, called BITMAX, out of the box, one of the largest in the world. This doesn’t necessarily mean that its volume will match the number of users.
The move is not unlike Telegram’s decision to create its own blockchain, Gram.
From BITBOX to BITMAX
Line’s crypto subsidiary already has an exchange that is available everywhere except the US and Japan, called BITBOX.
In a statement, the company said:
“Available through the Wallet tab on the LINE app—used by 81 million MAU in Japan alone—BITMAX is a simple and secure cryptocurrency exchange that makes getting started easy even for beginners at cryptocurrency trading. Putting peace of mind and security at the forefront, the BITMAX exchange will allow users to trade five types of cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC). BITMAX is a separate service from the BITBOX cryptocurrency exchange,*2 the latter of which is already available worldwide (excluding Japan and the US).”
Like many regulated exchanges, BITMAX opens its doors with a limited array of cryptocurrency pairs. Regulators around the world have taken years to adjust to the crypto markets as a whole, and expecting them to immediately sign off on a massive list of blockchain tokens is probably a bridge too far.
US Users Will Have to Wait
Line’s crypto products are still not available to US users, and no information has been made available about whether or not this will change in the near future or not. In general, the sticky regulatory situation in the United States has had a chilling effect on the crypto ambitions of many companies.
Simply being available to users does not mean that the exchange will see immediate use or adoption. With a messaging application, one obvious use for crypto is enabling payments between users, but then the option needs to be more attractive than existing options.
While crypto may ultimately be a cheaper and even more rewarding way to send money, the bottom line is that it must be acquired before it can be sent. Then, if that weren’t enough, there is plenty to learn with crypto, including how taxes work.
Time will tell how the efforts of Line, Telegram, Facebook, and other messaging/social media companies effect mass adoption.