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Line-Yahoo Japan Merger Set to Shake up the Crypto Scene

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

Merger could create one of the biggest internet companies in Asia. Both parties have considerable cryptocurrency and blockchain interests. Crypto investor: A big, powerful crypto player could emerge.

Source: iStock/ngkaki

Japanese cryptocurrency enthusiasts are watching business developments with interest after Softbank, the financial group that owns over 48% of Yahoo Japan, admitted that it was in talks with the operator of the Line chat app over a potential merger.

Line has recently launched its Bitmax cryptocurrency exchange in Japan, and operates exchanges and blockchain business operations in a number of other Asian countries. The company claims it has 81 million monthly active users on its chat app, which features a Bitmax interface.

Yahoo Japan, meanwhile, is one of the biggest backers of rival exchange TaoTao, which launched in May this year.

Takumi Yuzawa, a Tokyo-based cryptocurrency investor and business owner, told, “Undoubtedly the merger is going to have a very big impact on the cryptocurrency scene here in Japan.”

And Yuzawa remarked,

“Let’s imagine that these companies end merging their cryptocurrency operations. In that case, we are either going to end up with one very big and powerful crypto player – or one of those companies might end up exiting the market, meaning we lose a player.”

Neither company has yet spoken about possibly cryptocurrency plans after the merger. However, talks are almost certainly ongoing regarding crypto business plans, after Nikkei claimed the parties had “entered the final stages” of negotiations.

Yahoo Japan is officially owned by Z Holdings, but Softbank holds a controlling stake in the company. The Yahoo Japan search engine and related apps have some 48 million monthly active users.

Line, meanwhile, is the brainchild of South Korean internet giant Naver, the country’s equivalent to Google.

Per Jiji, one merger option currently on the table is creating a 50-50 joint-owned company, which would result in the company operating two Financial Services Agency-licensed crypto exchanges.

In a scathing critique, Bloomberg writer Tim Culpan opined that Line has been “marching toward irrelevance since its dual Tokyo and New York initial public offerings three years ago,” and said the company’s move into the world of cryptocurrency was a sign of “desperation.”

Both companies have also developed extensive e-pay business operations, with Line’s Line Pay and Yahoo Japan’s PayPay already rolled out across the country. The latter has also been integrated with Ripple’s MoneyTap app, while Line Pay has been working with Visa on blockchain-powered cross-border payments and “alternative currency” transaction solutions.