Banking News

SoftBank’s Line eyes central bank digital currencies in Africa, South America

digital currency wallet

Today SoftBank subsidiary Line announced it is partnering with NuriFlex Inc to target a central bank digital currency (CBDC) platform for roll out in Africa and South America. Nuriflex targets utilities such as electricity and telecoms firms with software solutions. The KOSDAQ (Korea) exchange-listed company has a blockchain-based digital payment platform that has a deal with Cameroon’s national health insurance system.

Line Corp, which runs Japan’s biggest social network and Line Pay, was formerly owned by Korea’s Naver. As of March 1, Naver and SoftBank each own half and Line was combined with SoftBank’s Yahoo Japan holding company ZHD. 

In terms of blockchain, Line has its own proprietary platform that it claims provides the settlement finality, speed, and scalability needed for a high volume payments system such as CBDC. It also operates payment and fintech services in countries like Thailand and says it is in CBDC discussions with various countries.

“Line is successfully operating its own ecosystem by developing blockchain wallets and various services based on the blockchain platform that it has already developed,” said Line’s Blockchain Lab Lead Hong-Gyu Lee. “We hope to innovate the financial industry through CBDC in the region through the combination of business experience in Africa and LINE’s blockchain technology.”

Meanwhile, Nuriflex said it already has experience working with electricity grids in Africa and South America.

As Line is partly owned by Korea’s Naver, the announcement’s timing seems notable. Earlier this week, the Bank of Korea published a bidding proposal for a CBDC technology partner. Shinhan Bank previously worked on a CBDC prototype without being commissioned, and the central bank is known to have had discussions with Klaytn, the public blockchain associated with Korea’s largest social media platform Kakao.