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Crypto-keen S Korean Tech Giants ‘Six Months ahead of Facebook’

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

A report in South Korea claims that two of the country’s biggest IT companies are hoping their blockchain technology related activities of recent months will help them steal ahead of Facebook and its new Libra project – both domestically and abroad.

Source: iStock/sportpoint

Fn News claims that the Kakao Group and Naver– along with its Japan-based affiliate Line – have a massive headstart on the likes of Facebook and other IT firms branching out into crypto/blockchain activities. The report claims that Naver and Kakao are now “speeding up their blockchain activities through their subsidiaries.”

The progress, the report claims, puts them “at least six months ahead of Facebook” – with a number of developments expected from both Naver and Kakao in the days ahead.

Kakao’s blockchain arm Ground X is hoping to unveil the mainnet for its Klaytn platform on June 27, and already has a large number of domestic and international partners and investors. Like Facebook’s Libra project, Klaytn has a governing council made up of “major companies from around the world” – although the identity of most of these investors is yet to be made public (with the exception of gaming giant Neowiz). Earlier this year, Ground X raised USD 90 million in a private coin offering.

And as previously reported, Line is edging closer to opening its long-awaited Japanese exchange platform. Multiple Japanese media outlets reported that the regulatory Financial Services Agency (FSA) is set to issue Line with an operating permit, with further news on this front possibly forthcoming before the end of this week.

Whereas Kakao dominates the chat app market in Korea – operating on 93% of the country’s smartphones – Line has some 80 million Japanese users. The company also dominates chat app markets in many Southeast Asian countries, where it already operates cryptocurrency exchange platforms. Kakao, meanwhile, is a long-time crypto-proponent, and invested in the operator of Upbit, one of South Korea’s biggest crypto exchanges.

Fn News quotes an unnamed industry insider as stating, “Of late, Line has been concentrating solely on winning a permit from the FSA.”

Kakao, Naver and Line all operate e-pay platforms, and are thought to be keen to integrate their blockchain and/or cryptocurrency activities accordingly. Kakao and Line also have e-banking operations, and Naver has also recently mooted the possibility of creating an online bank.