LINE NEXT raises $140M to fuel global NFT marketplace expansion

LINE NEXT Corp., a South Korean-based nonfungible token and cryptocurrency collectible arm of messaging giant LINE Corp., today announced it has raised a $140 million investment to expand its global business as part of a “plan to popularize the Web3 ecosystem” and open a marketplace for digital collectibles.

The investment comes from a consortium led by Crescendo Equity Partners, a Peter Thiel-backed private equity firm. The funding will go towards preparing for the launch of the marketplace in January 2024.

LINE NEXT spun out of LINE’s popular messaging app Line to focus on Web3 and crypto ecosystem initiatives. Web3 refers to the decentralized web and uses cryptographically protected transactions on blockchain technology to track and execute contracts peer-to-peer between parties. That can allow for the transaction of currency, tokens and other assets, such as cryptocurrency – prominent examples being bitcoin and Ethereum.

The same technology can also be used to create nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which are a type of digital collectibles represented by assets represented by transactions on blockchains. The tokens can represent the ownership of images, artwork, music, video game items, tickets or almost any intangible item and can be held, traded, bought and sold.

According to a statement, Line said that the company intends to launch its global NFT platform, DOSI in early 2024 to offer a wide variety of digital products for trade. It will integrate with Japan’s NFT marketplace LINE NFT with a mobile app. The company also plans to use the investment to introduce a social app that will allow users to design their own characters using artificial intelligence.

The apps will be built on the public blockchain Finschia. As part of the process, LINE NEXT and Crescendo will participate in Finschia to contribute to its ecosystem and governance moving forward.

“It is significant that we were able to secure this funding in the context of a globally contracting investment environment,” said LINE NEXT Chief Executive Youngsu Ko. “We plan to use this opportunity to further popularize Web3 and develop a new service ecosystem where users own the value of their digital goods.”

This funding comes at a time when the NFT market has plummeted considerably since its pinnacle in 2022. According to a report from Supra, NFT sales fell almost 92% from May 2022 to February 2023, from $3,894 to $293.

An equally crippling blow to the NFT market came in September, when dappGambl reported that data provided by NFT Scan and CoinMarketCap showed that out of 73,257 NFT collections, 69,795 of them, or slightly more than 95%, had a market cap of zero. They were essentially worthless assets. The same study showed that 79% of all NFT collections remained unsold.

However, Ko, and LINE, remain unperturbed by the current market woes. The company said the intent is the popularization of Web3 and NFTs and the company has seen broad adoption in its platform. It currently has 5.5 million users worldwide and claims more than 470,000 cumulative transactions in just one year since the beta service began.

Image: Blue Planet Studio

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