• Japanese business giants ready for NFT and blockchain development action

  • Some of Japan’s biggest cryptocurrency players are gearing up for new non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain initiatives – Rakuten, Line and Coincheck are preparing new projects.

    Rakuten, which operates one of the country’s largest e-commerce platforms, as well as an e-payment service, cryptocurrency exchange and content streaming platform, announced that it will launch an NFT business unit next year. The new division, called Rakuten NFT, will debut in the spring of 2022 and will focus on sports and entertainment products, the company said in a press release.

    The company has a number of sports-related partnerships. It sponsors a professional soccer team in the Japanese league and is the current jersey sponsor of European soccer heavyweight Barcelona. It also operates a number of entertainment-based products, including the video-on-demand platform Rakuten TV.

    The company said its new business unit would “combine the NFT market” with a “sales platform” and promised that “IP holders” would have the ability to “publish and distribute NFT” on the platform without having to develop their own technology.

    It will allow its customers to use Rakuten’s loyalty points to purchase NFTs, the company added.

    Rakuten is also always on the lookout for cryptocurrency talent: a LinkedIn job posting from a few weeks ago revealed that the company was appointing new members to its Tokyo-based blockchain lab, writing that it wanted candidates with a “strong interest in both the market and technology of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”

    Line, the chat app used by some 84 million smartphone users in Japan, also recently posted a job ad saying it was looking to bolster its blockchain team.

    Line wrote that it is looking for “mid to senior level” developers who will also work in Tokyo and be responsible for the Line blockchain master network, smart contract infrastructure, consensus algorithms and Line’s token economy initiative. The company, which operates domestic and international cryptocurrency exchanges as well as its own linked (LN) crypto assets, has also entered the NFT world. On Tuesday, it announced that it is launching an NFT to go along with its popular emoji series Line Friends.

    The company was founded by South Korean tech giant Naver, which recently merged with SoftBank’s Yahoo Japan.

    Meanwhile, one of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges – Monex Group’s Coincheck – has announced that it will launch an NFT partnership with the fashion brand. According to Nikkei News, the company will work with Tomoko Koizumi to launch a new line of NFT products. Koizumi has famously designed clothing for the likes of Lady Gaga. The designer also designed the dress that Japanese singer Misia will wear when she sings the Japanese national anthem at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

    Coincheck recently launched its own NFT marketplace – there are now a range of companies competing to provide a trading platform for J-pop, manga, anime, drama and sports-themed “cultural content”.

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