Viber To Launch Cryptocurrency In Russia In 2019

Japan’s Rakuten, the parent company of Viber messenger, intends to launch its messenger-based cryptocurrency in Russia in 2019, Chief Executive Officer of Viber Djamel Agaoua told reporters on Tuesday.

The multinational announced in February 2018 that it would be rolling out its $9 billion loyalty program into a new blockchain-based cryptocurrency. For that purpose, Viber launched a service called Viber Community, limited only by the number of people registered on the app itself. Viber has over one billion users.

“Our mother company is creating Rakuten Coin: cryptocurrency, which is supported by the entire Rakuten ecosystem,” Agaoua said. Rakuten Coin will be tradeable on Viber. The cryptocurrency will appear in the Viber wallet and it can be exchanged for rubles, dollars, and euros. The cryptocurrency exchange for rubles and transfers to bank accounts will depend on Russian laws.

Viber also plans to launch its e-commerce platform in Russia in the fourth quarter of this year, Head of Viber e-commerce Zephrin Lasker said.

Viber is far from the most dominant messaging app in the western world. It has less than 15 percent penetration in the United States and 22 percent in Western Europe. In Central and Eastern Europe, however, the figure grows to 73 percent penetration and 76 percent in Russia. It makes sense for the company trying to expand operations in Russia since it is their top market.

Notably, Russian Parliament drafted and approved the first reading of its cryptocurrency laws in May, defining digital currencies and tokens as property. The bill attempts to make distinctions between a digital token and a cryptocurrency based on the number of producers.

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