Online Chat Companies Rush Toward Crypto Spinoffs

Popular South Korean messaging app Kakao Talk is the latest to join the list of online communication firms jumping on the crypto bandwagon.

Han Jaesun, co-founder and CTO of a startup accelerator FuturePlay, will lead the yet-to-be-named crypto firm as CEO, the chat giant said.

The new venture will be a wholly-owned subsidiary temporarily named Kakao Blockchain.

The subsidiary will be responsible for developing blockchain applications. It is considering an initial coin offering (ICO) as well.

It’s illegal to conduct an ICO in South Korea for the moment. As a result, the ICO will be based abroad, with the two most likely candidates being Singapore or Hong Kong.

Kakao Coin, once issued, would be used as currency across many of Kakao’s other apps, such as KakaoTalk, Kakao Games, and Kakao Driver.

It is unclear how many Kakao Coins would be sold or to whom.

The move by Kakao mirrors that of another popular messaging app, Telegram.

Telegram is registered in the British Virgin Islands. It reportedly raised $850 million from 81 investors in what is being described as a closed ICO pre-sale.


To attract U.S. investors, Telegram filed an exemption with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This exemption meant that the tokens offered by Telegram did not have to registered as securities. Only accredited investors were able to take part in the Telegram ICO.

Another messaging app giant, Japan’s LINE, also has disclosed plans to launch a new company for cryptocurrency transactions, as well as exchange and loan services.

Canadian chat messaging service Kik raised around $100 million in an ICO that’ll see its service shifted to the blockchain, while new project Status held an ICO of more than $100 million to construct a completely decentralized service on the Ethereum blockchain.

Kakao, the parent company of Kakao Talk, was involved in the launch of Upbit, a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange.

Kakao allowed its messaging platform to be integrated with the trading service so that Upbit users could chat and trade with each other.

The Korean chat firm also has recently made advances into AI and Internet of Things (IoT) for new business growth, including an AI speaker and a mobile parking service.