TOKYO: Japanese messaging service Line plans to launch a cryptocurrency exchange in Singapore next month as it seeks to ramp up its financial services capabilities and reduce its reliance on advertising revenue and other sources of income.

The company, which has about 200m monthly active users, confirmed in a press release that its new exchange will be made available globally except in Japan and the US.

Called Bitbox, the platform will offer at least 30 different cryptocurrencies – including bitcoin, bitcoincash, ethereum and litecoin – and will offer 15 languages, except Japanese and Thai, in return for a trading fee of 0.1%.

“With the need to trade cryptocurrencies rising around the world, Line has been preparing to provide opportunities for users to do so securely, and as the secure system is in place now, the company will be offering the service,” the company statement read.

Even though cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are coming under greater regulatory scrutiny around the world, Asia is seen as being at the forefront of the new payment trend.

And with Line also planning to invest in blockchain, the digital ledger technology, its expansion into digital financial services could boost the challenge it poses to rival messaging apps, such as WeChat and Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

According to Bloomberg, Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa visualises a token-based economy that places blockchain technology at the centre of the company’s efforts to bring together all its various e-commerce, entertainment and media offerings.

“There isn’t a system in place right now that can monetarily reward users’ contribution to a service,” Idezawa said. “Linking service growth to compensation for contributors in a token economy could unlock a great deal of new value,” he added.

Based on an unnamed source, Bloomberg also reported that Line is working on developing a standalone mobile app for its new cryptocurrency exchange and that will be kept apart from its main messaging service.

Sourced from Line, Bloomberg; additional content by WARC staff