Kakao is also planning to increase its offerings in music, gaming, payment services, and more.
Kakao Corporation, South Korea’s largest mobile messenger operator, has announced that it will be delving into blockchain as a way to expand its presence overseas.
The operator of Kakao Talk (Kakao’s top messenger app) said at a press conference on Tuesday that the company has created Ground X, a Japan-based, wholly-owned subsidiary that will build and complete a blockchain platform by the end of 2018. The subsidiary is part of a larger plan expansion called ‘Kakao 3.0.’
Local news source Yonhap reported that at first, the platform will act as a basis for developers to create new apps. In the future, Ground X will integrate other blockchain-based services into Kakao’s existing platforms, which include a social network called KakaoStory, a mobile payment service, a gaming network, and special privileges for premium accounts.
A statement from the company said that Ground X “will explore the technology with the goal of taking the technological leadership in Asia,” and “open its blockchain platform to the public, explore ways to leverage R&D and investment to ensure further growth, and offer new blockchain-based services combined with Kakao’s existing services.”
The company is also reportedly aiming to leverage its offerings in music, cartoon, games, and videos to gain a greater foothold in the overseas markets it’s targeting. “Armed with the quality digital content, Kakao will expand beyond its strategic market, Japan, into China and Southeast Asia,” the statement said.
Kakao Won’t Hold an ICO–At Least, Not Anytime Soon
Rumours that Kakao would be developing and holding an ICO for its own cryptocurrency, the ‘KakaoCoin’, were denied by one of Kakao’s two CEOs, Joh Su-yong. ICOs were banned in South Korea near the end of 2017.
However, in a ZDNet report, Joh did say that “an open ecosystem is important to us. We are beginning dialogues with partners that want to create a blockchain token economy in Asia.” Kakao is also reportedly developing a “drawer” platform for digital assets collected through KakaoTalk.
The messenger app could stand to make a huge profit if it ever does make the decision to hold an ICO. Global messenger app Telegram has reportedly raised close to a billion dollars in what has been one of the largest ICOs in history.