Blockchain Subsidiary Planned By South Korean Messaging App Kakao

South Korean messaging app operator Kakao is planning to establish a unit that will focus on blockchain technology.

Kakao is an integrated mobile lifestyle platform company with services including mobile messaging (Kakao Talk), gaming (Kakao Games), music (Melon), e-mail (Daum Mail), search (Daum Search), news (Daum News), and more. As of May 2017, KakaoTalk had 220 million registered and 49 million monthly active users. The app is also used by 93% of smartphone owners in South Korea, where it is the number one messaging app

The new subsidiary, tentatively named “Kakao Blockchain,” is likely to be established this month. Han Jaesun, co-founder of local startup accelerator FuturePlay, is expected to lead the new unit.

The messaging app operator is seeking a “reverse initial coin offering” whereby an established company will raise capital through offering crypto tokens. Since it is currently illegal to run an ICO based in South Korea, the Kakao ICO is expected to be located overseas, most likely in Japan, Singapore or Hong Kong.

Kakao has already been providing a blockchain authentication service through its FinTech subsidiary “Kakao Pay.” It makes use of the blockchain technology that safely manages data about customers’ personal information and transactions by storing them in many different servers. Last year, Kakao opened a domestic cryptocurrency called Upbit via its affiliate Dunamu.

Last month, Japan-based messaging app Line, Kakao’s competitor, established “Line Financial” to expand the financial services offered to users. New services include a crypto exchange as well as loans and insurance.

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