Japan’s Best Messenger App, LINE, Launches NFT Marketplace

LINE, the leading social networking and mobile chat app in Japan, announced earlier this week that it had launched its non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace. The announcement was made by LVC Corp., the operator of LINE’s crypto asset and blockchain business in Osaka.

Jointly owned by South Korean internet giant Naver and Japan’s SoftBank, LINE has more than 90 million users that it hopes to integrate into the NFT space.

The new marketplace allows users to buy, sell and trade NFTs with other LINE users and store them in LINE’s Bitmax wallet. This crypto wallet can be accessed through LINE messaging app accounts.

Approximately 40,000 NFTs will be offered at launch, including content from the popular anime series Mobile Police Patlabor, Yoshimoto Kogyo (Japan’s largest entertainment agency) and even LINE’s own character Betakkuma.

The company, which offers free messaging, voice calls and video calls, has described itself as “the fastest growing mobile messenger app in the world”.

To further expand into the crypto and NFT space, LINE’s US-based company LINE NEXT plans to launch a global NFT platform called DOSI in July, which aims to support businesses and creators in building NFT markets and new communities.

NFT investments growing in Asia

LINE is far from the first Asia-based company to invest heavily in the NFT space. Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten launched an NFT marketplace that enables peer-to-peer buying and selling of NFTs in a wide range of areas, including sports, music, entertainment and anime.

Sega, the Japanese game developer, has also filed for NFT-related trademarks and has teased a collection of “SuperGames” including cloud technology and NFTs. But perhaps the boldest and most surprising NFT investment of all is not from a company, but from a country.

In February, South Korea’s Ministry of ICT, Science and Futures Planning pledged 223.7 billion Won ($186.8 million) to build a metaverse ecosystem in the country. The funding will support the growth of NFTs and digital content across the country and create a state-sponsored metaverse to expand the growth of virtual cities, media and education in South Korea.

As the popularity of NFTs and the metaverse grows, a slew of brands, companies, and even countries are investing in the space. Whether LINE can beat some of the competition to create a thriving NFT marketplace remains to be seen. But having 90 million users to draw from is certainly a profitable start.

We’ll be checking in on LINE’s new NFT marketplace to see how it plays out.

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