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Chat app Line is reportedly considering its own cryptocurrency

Tickets please, the next crypto train is about to depart. Japan-based messaging app Line is said to be the latest public company to consider a move into the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, according to a Bloomberg report.

Unlike some of the more obscure and head-scratching moves, which include China’s forgotten social network and an iced tea company, there would be some merit to Line adopting a token.

The company already offers a mobile payment service — Line Pay — and one of its staple features is a virtual currency that is used in its social games and to buy content on its platform, including its vast array of (very communicative) stickers.

Bloomberg reported that Line is in discussions with a number of potential partners, including bitcoin exchange Upbit, over possible tie-ins around Line Pay and other products. The goal, the report claimed, is to make its products stickier with users.

Line did not respond to a request for comment.

Lack of engagement is certainly an issue Line has encountered since it went public via a dual Japan-U.S. listing that raised $1.1 billion in 2016.

Line claimed 218 million in July 2016 — just before the listing — but that had dropped in 203 million by October 2017. The company also lost users from its four core markets — Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia — for the first time last year. Those countries account for two-thirds of its users, making it a very big problem.

Line’s share price got a 10 percent bump in Japan yesterday, but ultimately it remains to be seen whether, and indeed how, it will utilize the blockchain.

There are already some examples. Kin, a Canada-based messenger that claims 15 million monthly users, held a $100 million ICO last September aimed at developing an ecosystem that rewards users, content makers and advertisers based on ‘attention.’ Telegram, which has emerged as a key platform for the crypto industry, is also planning an ICO which TechCrunch understands could surpass $1 billion.

Line wouldn’t necessarily have to conduct an ICO — the regulations are still hazy for public entities — but it could implement attention-based tokens or the blockchain to reward users for using the messenger, making payments via Line Pay or playing its games.

Disclosure: The author owns small amounts of cryptocurrency


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