Some of Japan’s biggest crypto players are gearing up to make new non-fungible token (NFT) and blockchain moves – with Rakuten, Line and Coincheck preparing new projects.
Rakuten, which operates one of the country’s biggest e-commerce platforms, as well an e-pay service, a crypto exchange and content streaming platforms, has announced that it will launch an NFT business unit next year. In a press release, the company said that the new arm, named Rakuten NFT, would debut in Spring 2022, and would focus on sports and entertainment offerings.
The firm has a number of sports-related tie-ins. It sponsors a pro football team in the Japanese leagues, and is the current shirt sponsor of the European footballing heavyweight FC Barcelona. It also operates a number of entertainment-based offerings, including the video-on-demand platform Rakuten TV.
The company said that its new business arm would “combine an NFT marketplace” with “a sales platform,” and promised “intellectual property holders” the ability to “issue and distribute NFTs” on the platform “without having to develop their own technology.”
The firm added that it would allow its customers to buy NFTs using Rakuten loyalty points.
Rakuten has also been looking for crypto talent: a LinkedIn job posting from several weeks ago indicated that the firm is looking to appoint new members for its blockchain lab in Tokyo, writing that it wanted candidates with a “strong interest in both market and technology of blockchain and cryptocurrency.”
More recently, the chat app Line, used by around 84 million smartphone users in Japan, also posted a job ad indicating that it was looking to bolster its blockchain team.
Line wrote that it was looking for “mid-senior level” developers, also to be based in Tokyo, to work on the Line blockchain mainnet, a smart contract infrastructure, consensus algorithms and Line’s token economy plans. The company, which operates domestic and international crypto exchanges as well as its own link (LN) cryptoasset, has also moved into the NFT world. On Tuesday, it announced that it was launching an NFT tie-in with its popular emoji series Line Friends.
The company was founded by the South Korean tech giant Naver, and has recently merged with the SoftBank-affiliated Yahoo Japan.
Meanwhile, one of the country’s biggest crypto exchanges – the Monex Group’s Coincheck – has announced that it will launch an NFT tie-in with fashion brands. Per Nikkei, the firm will work with Tomo Koizumi on a new range of NFT releases. Koizumi has famously created attire for the likes of Lady Gaga. The designer also created the dress worn by the Japanese singer Misia at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics during her performance of the Japanese national anthem.
Coincheck has recently unveiled its own NFT marketplace – with a range of firms now competing to provide trading platforms for J-pop, manga, anime, drama, and sports-themed “cultural contents.”