Line Opens New Cryptocurrency Exchange Despite Bear Run

Line, a Japanese company, decided to choose Singapore to open its new exchange, raising a couple of questions about Japan's reputation as a crypto-friendly country.

Line Corporation, the developer of the most-used messaging app in Japan, must have been reassuring itself that some of the world’s greatest ventures started in the middle of a bear market. And that would be exactly what they have done themselves by launching a cryptocurrency exchange now.

Known as Bitbox, the exchange will offer pairings with 30 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin. The company did not provide any more details on other coins that would be paired.

“With the need to trade cryptocurrencies rising around the world, LINE has been preparing to provide opportunities for users to do so securely, and as the secure system is in place now, the company will be offering the service,” the company said in a statement.

Bitbox’s launch wouldn’t be so interesting if Line had founded it in Japan. But the company decided to register the exchange in Singapore.

Seeing as it’s going to be a crypto-only exchange, it has two distinct advantages: It wouldn’t inspire as much regulatory ire as a financial services provider that offers fiat pairings, and it can set up almost anywhere in the world rather quickly.

The choice to start up in Singapore may have come as a result of Japan’s pressure on established exchanges like bitFlyer and Bitbank, both of which had to resign from the Virtual Currency Exchange Association after receiving business improvement orders from authorities.

Singapore, on the other hand, has a monetary authority that not only favors a multiple-tier solution for traditional exchanges, but also wishes to favor even decentralized exchanges in the future. At this moment an exchange may already operate under relaxed rules until it expands to a particular size, after which it becomes what is known as a “recognized market operator.” Singapore is also trying to create a favorable environment for brand new cryptocurrency ventures. For example, Singapore’s financial laws play well for an up-and-coming player in the market.

On the other hand, from almost every perspective, it appears that Japan’s exchange market is at a stage in which it is consolidating market power to a few players.