Messaging app LINE has officially launched a cryptocurrency exchange service for its 80 million users based in Japan, days after the platform received final regulatory approval.
The Shinjuku-based messaging provider, which is 73.36-percent owned by South Korea’s Naver, said in a statement on Tuesday that the new exchange, dubbed Bitmax, is now live with trading of five crypto assets: bitcoin (BTC), ethereum (ETH), ripple (XRP), bitcoin cash (BCH) and litecoin (LTC).
According to the statement, the service was introduced in stages from 3 p.m. Japan time on Tuesday and is available first on Android devices. It can be accessed via the wallet tab on the LINE mobile app and is also integrated with LINE Pay to provide an easier Japanese yen fiat on-ramp process.
LINE said in the announcement it currently has 81 million monthly active users in Japan and 164 million globally. It operates the crypto exchange through LVC Corporation, a subsidiary, which was awarded a cryptocurrency exchange license by Japan’s Financial Services Agency on Sept. 6.
BITMAX is available to residents of Japan with a LINE account. No fees are charged for trading, though a charge of 108 yen will be applied for deposits and withdrawals.
In terms of security, LINE said it utilizes a wallet developed by Palo Alto-based BitGo to segregate customer assets and store assets in a cold wallet, which is itself managed by a dedicated team.
A strict KYC process is in place for new customers. Applicants can register their account with the app using an ID card and photographic capture, with a registered bank account and an ID or by mail.
The new service will run separately from the company’s Singapore-based Bitbox, which has been in operation since July 2018 but excludes residents of Japan and the U.S.Jinhee Lee, Chief Innovation & Product Officer, at LINE’s unblock corp via CoinDesk archives
Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo have joined Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) per CoinDesk Japan. The 2018 program now boasts 33 participants including Princeton University, Carnegie Mellon, and the National University of Singapore, among others.
Ripple committed $50 million toward the project to develop blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digital network programs. Funds sent to the Japanese universities will fuel undergraduate, graduate, and PhD studies. The University of Tokyo will also issue scholarships with the funds.
“University partners will continue to increase positive awareness of the transformative impact that blockchain technology will have across various industries,” SVP of Global Operations at Ripple Eric van Miltenburg said. “As the industry matures, the academic community plays a pivotal role in paving the road for innovative companies and entrepreneurs leveraging blockchain technologies and digital assets.”
Price of XRP over the last 30 days via CoinDesk data.
Academia continues to play a role in Ripple’s roadmap. The payment network announced commitments to the Brazilian Universities of São Paulo and Fundação Getulio Vargas in June as part of a greater South America investment strategy. At the time, Ripple reported it was adding two to three financial institutional partners to RippleNet per week in the region.
Competition for the firm is greater than ever, however. A recent testing report from dominant financial network SWIFT showed quickening settlement speeds. Test runs through 17 participants averaged 25 seconds per transfer. The fastest settlement took all of 13 seconds.
Still, quarterly sales for Ripple’s XRP are on the rise. Ripple’s Q2 numbers were up 50% with $251.51 million XRP sold. Following inflation criticisms, Ripple plans on slowing its sales across the board in Q3.