|Viber Launches Rakuten Coin in Russia in 2019|
Rakuten - the Japanese behemoth of e-commerce, which owns Viber messaging platform, will launch its own digital coin in Russia, Viber's Chief Executive Officer Djamel Agaoua told reporters at a press-conference on Tuesday.
The Rakuten coin will be based on the messaging app and supported by the entire Rakuten system. The company hopes to make it available in Russia across the Viber network via a Viber wallet within the next 6-12 months.
Murky waters of Russian regulation
This Rakuten Coin will be tradeable in Viber against the US dollar, euro, and, possibly Russian ruble. Currently, the company is studying the Russian cryptocurrency legislation to figure out whether it is necessary to obtain a license from the local regulator and what steps should be taken in order to launch coins in Russia. Russia’s cryptocurrency regulation is vague as the government has yet to pass the bill on digital assets and decide how to deal with them.
The new digital coin will allow Viber users to access Rakuten e-commerce platform and pay for the services via the Viber messaging platform. Currently, the company has over one billion registered users worldwide with about 45 million of them living in Russia.
Viber is not alone
Viber is not the first communication platform trying to capitalize on the crypto hype. Telegram - another popular messenger in Russia - raised $1.7 billion from an ICO, which will eventually result in Gram coin being issued. Unlike other ICO projects, Telegram’s investors paid fiat money for the right to receive Gram coin once it comes to life.
South Korean conglomerate Naver is also exploring the opportunities of new form of money via its Japanese subsidiary, the popular pan-Asian messaging platform Line. It is likely that other leading communication services and platforms will attempt to enter the crypto universe this year.