Popular S. Korean Chat App Operator Kakao To Launch Blockchain Subsidiary

Kakao, the service provider for major South Korean[1] mobile messaging app KakaoTalk, will be establishing a Blockchain[2] subsidiary tentatively named “Kakao Blockchain” and is considering launching an Initial Coin Offering[3] (ICO), Huffington Post Korea[4] reported today, March 5.

Jae-sun Han, a partner and Chief Development Officer of tech startup incubator Future Play, will be the representative of the new organization. The concrete business plan for the Kakao Blockchain subsidiary will be introduced on March 20, according to Huffington Post Korea.

Since it is currently illegal to run an ICO based in South Korea, Huffington Post Korea writes that the ICO for Kakao would be located abroad, most likely in Singapore[5] or Hong Kong[6]. The hypothetical “Kakao Coin” could then be used as a native currency on various Kakao-provided apps, like KakaoTalk, Kakao Driver, and Kakao Games.

Cointelegraph contributor Joseph Young tweeted today, March 5, that KakaoTalk and KakaoPay, their mobile payment service, have “90% penetration in messaging and fintech markets in South Korea:”

Rumors of an all out cryptocurrency ban[10] in South Korea caused the crypto markets to drop severely in January 2018. Since then, the government has clarified that there is no planned crypto ban[11].

Last month, popular messaging app Telegram[12], registered in the British Virgin Islands,  reported that they had raised $850 mln[13] from 81 investors in what was effectively a closed ICO pre-sale. For US-based investors, Telegram filed an exemption with the US Securities and Exchange Commission[14] (SEC) so that their tokens did not have to be registered as securities, and only so-called accredited investors could contribute.