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Line App’s New NFT Marketplace Tests Regulatory Uncertainty in Japan

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Popular messaging app Line has launched its own NFT marketplace in Japan, which could raise the eyebrows of local regulators.

On Wednesday, Line announced the launch of the Line NFT – an NFT marketplace for Japan that offers 40,000 NFT products.

Users of Line NFT, which is developed by Line’s crypto and blockchain business arm LVC Corporation, will be able to buy and exchange NFTs through its Line Bitmax Wallet. The NFTs can be exchange directly with LINE users.

The marketplace will also house exclusive NFT videos through its “Yoshimoto NFT Theater” that features NFTs from “classic anime series Patlabor the Mobile Police, and NFTs of other popular characters.” Yoshimoto Kogyo is a popular Japanese entertainment, comedy and theatre company.

Line has about 90 million users in Japan, according to the company.

The country currently has no law regulating NFTs. However, NFTs could be regarded as “securities” if the asset delivered to the NFT holder is considered to be a “distribution of profits.”

“Even if an NFT does not correspond to securities, if it has an economic function, such as being a means of payment, there is the possibility that it falls within the definition of a “crypto asset” or a “prepaid payment instrument” under article 2.5 or article 3.1 of the Payment Services Act,” Asia Business Law Journal states.

Technically, NFTs in their current form do not serve such “economic functions” and aren’t considered crypto assets. However, the grey area means there is still a risk of unpredictable regulatory intervention.