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Japan's LINE shutters crypto exchange to focus on less controversial blockbiz

Decision is unrelated to recent crypto crashes, presages pivot to some kind of tokenised chat

Popular Japanese messaging app Line on Monday announced the closure of its US cryptocurrency exchange business, Bitfront, citing an increased focus on blockchain-related business.

As of Monday, new signups and credit card payments on Bitfront were suspended, trading will be halted on December 30, and withdrawals will be allowed until March 31, 2023.

The company said that despite its efforts to overcome challenges in a rapidly evolving industry, shutting the business segment was necessary to "continue growing the Line blockchain ecosystem and Link token economy."

Line clarified that the decision was made in "the best interest of the Line blockchain ecosystem" and is completely unrelated to any cases of crypto "misconduct."

The crypto market has been wildly unstable since the crash of Terraform Lab's so-called stablecoin TerraUSD this past May.

The value of prominent cryptocurrencies has plunged, helped by the swift and savage collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, and the bankruptcy of crypto lending firms like Block Fi.

US-based Bitfront originally launched in 2018 in Singapore as Bitbox, before moving stateside in 2020.

The operation supported trading of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum and its homemade native blockchain and token, Link, in US dollars globally with exceptions in some jurisdictions. The company had voluntarily left South Korea in September 2021 due to the country's tightening of regulations.

Line's other blockchain ambitions, as outlined in a white paper aim to create "a platform for a wide range of Line services and accelerate the Line Token Economy."

"In short, Line is building a service-oriented blockchain ecosystem around Link, where anyone can use Line’s services, conveniently and securely, in a token economy that will grow together with our users," said the company. ®

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