That’s what the Korean-language blockchain news website The Block Post is asking.
As reported in the Japan Times and elsewhere, messaging app maker LINE Corp. and Yahoo Japan’s operator Z Holdings Corp. are considering merging their operations by the end of 2020. And according to reports that came out today, the two parties have already struck a basic merger accord.
This brings together Japan’s most popular messaging app and its most popular search engine.
Softbank, which controls Z Holdings, and South Korean IT giant Naver, the parent company of LINE, are reportedly considering the creation of a new joint venture to operate the two units. This new entity would knock off e-commerce site Rakuten as Japan’s biggest Internet company.
The news has people in the crypto space asking how this will impact the blockchain ecosystem. LINE’s blockchain development subsidiary LVC Corporation runs the cryptocurrency exchanges Bitmax and Bitbox, the former having received a license from the Japanese financial authorities. Yahoo Japan backs another cryptocurrency exchange, TaoTao.
Yahoo Japan also runs Japan’s most popular e-payment app, PayPay. LINE runs the next most popular, LINE Pay.
As the Korean-language blockchain news site The Nodist writes, if the two companies merge their payment engines, add a bit of Yahoo’s shopping functionality and the banking features currently being developed by LINE, and throw on a cryptocurrency wallet and an exchange, and boom, you’ve got yourself a super app. Or at least you’ve got one in Japan.
Japan’s government has been promoting the growth of cashless payments — it’s even calling the 2020 Tokyo Olympics a “Cashless Olympics.” Interestingly, Japan is actually something of a laggard in this regard — four out of five purchases in Japan are with cash, a sharp contrast with South Korea, where 90% of transactions are digital.
Also in the Korea blockchain space…
(By Joseph Young, LongHash, Nov. 12)
The short answer is regulatory ambiguity regarding trading, the January 2018 crash in Bitcoin prices and few alternative currencies. Nevertheless, Joseph Young writes, “[D]espite the noticeable drop in the daily volume of cryptocurrencies across the country’s top exchanges, with the support from the government, the cryptocurrency market of South Korea is likely to maintain its position as a key player in Asia.”
(By Tim Alper, Cryptonews, Nov. 11)
As we mentioned last week, the Game Rating and Administration Committee’s recent decision on NodeBrick’s “Infinity Star” hasn’t made life any easier for blockchain game developers. Whether it’s a “death sentence” on blockchain game development in Korea, though, it’s hard to say.
(By Miranda Wood, Ledger Insights, Nov. 11)
Shinhan Bank and the Small Business Market Promotion Corporation are partnering to build a blockchain-based loan management platform that streamlines the verification process for SMEs applying for state-backed loans. The project aims to reduce the time to receive the loan from 22 days to 10 days.
(By Ian Allison, Coindesk, Nov. 14)
Samsung SDS has partnered with Israel-based QEDIT to improve the privacy of its Nexledger blockchain through zero-knowledge proofs, which can authenticate data without revealing any details about said data. Coindesk writes, “The step underscores one of the challenges facing companies adopting distributed ledger technology: broadcasting transactions to a network puts them at risk of exposing sensitive client data and tipping their hands to competitors.”
(By David Canellis, TNW Hard Fork, Nov. 13)
A Korean court handed a 16 year prison term to the CEO of CoinUp, a South Korean exchange — if you can call it that — that ended up being a big Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of USD 384 million. Several other executives and figures associated with the exchange got long prison terms as well. The fake magazine covers with President Moon Jae-in were a nice touch.