Djamel Agaoua, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Viber, stated that Rakuten, the messenger’s parent company, is currently looking at Russian laws concerning the cryptocurrency space. Russian regulations will be very important to Rakuten, as the Japanese company plans to launch their messenger-based cryptocurrency in Russia in 2019.
Rakuten, previously, announced their plan to launch their Rakuten Coin in February 2018. The Rakuten Coin is a cryptocurrency based on the Japanese company’s existing loyalty program.
“Our mother company is creating Rakuten Coin: cryptocurrency, which is supported by the entire Rakuten ecosystem. Very soon you’ll be able to send some Rakuten Coins and to trade Rakuten Coins against rubles, dollars, and euros. The cryptocurrency exchange for rubles and transfers to bank accounts will depend on Russian laws.”
While Viber has over 1 billion active users internationally, Tass, a local Russian news agency, reported that 45 million of these users are from Russia. Viber is a very popular messaging application in Central and Eastern Europe in comparison to the West, which commonly uses Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. In Central and Eastern Europe, Viber has a 73 percent penetration rate with 76 percent in Russia.
Zephrin Lasker, the head of Viber e-commerce, mentioned that Viber also plans to launch an e-commerce platform in Russia late this year.
Kik Launches Their Own Cryptocurrency Token Called Kin
Viber is, however, not the first messaging application to join the cryptocurrency industry and launch their cryptocurrency token. TechCrunch reported that, in August 2017, Canadian mobile messaging company Kik raised 168,732 Ethereum in an ICO, which was approximately $48 million at the time.
They also raised a presale of $50 million, bringing their total ICO to almost $100 million. Kik’s cryptocurrency token is called Kin, which is an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain.
According to Kik, users can earn Kin tokens by taking tutorials, quizzes, and answering polls. Laura Newton, a product manager from Kik, stated:
”Real consumer use of cryptocurrency doesn’t exist today, because the technology has yet to be adapted in daily life. We’ve built Kin into products that Kik users already use and have layered this experience in a simple and seamless way.”
While Kik was one of the first messaging apps to launch their own cryptocurrency token, Reddit user affluenter mentioned that Kik may lose market share if they’re not fast to quickly move and dominate the market.
Messaging Apps Expand Via the Cryptocurrency Sector
Telegram, an alternative encrypted messaging app, also raised $1.7 billion from a prior ICO round that involved less than 200 investors. According to Gizmodo, Telegram’s ICO round is considered one of the largest ICOs in history.
While Kik, Viber, and Telegram have their own tokens, Japan’s messaging app LINE even launched their own cryptocurrency exchange in July 2018. According to an announcement on its website, BITBOX will be available in most countries except the U.S. and Japan due to the recent regulatory crackdowns both countries. BITBOX will support 15 languages and offer at least 30 different cryptocurrencies.
It has partnered with Bittrex to trade 120 tokens from 214 markets. According to Forbes, Upbit had an average daily trade volume of $4.7 billion in December and reached $11 billion in daily trades in just one day.