Line Next, a web3 unit of the Japanese messaging app Line, raised $140 million in its funding led by Crescendo Equity Partners, a Peter Thiel-backed private equity firm in South Korea, to expand its web3 platform.
The new funding comes nearly a year after Line Next released its browser-only beta service — a consumer-to-consumer(C2C) marketplace launched on its non-fungible token (NFT) platform DOSI. With the previous DOSI beta, Line Next focused on “gauging the potential for various web3 services, such as NFT platforms, avatar features, games and entertainment,” Woosuk Kim, business director of Line Next, told TechCrunch.
The company plans to use the new capital to launch its official NFT platform DOSI and web3 services in January next year. These include the DOSI’s mobile app launch, which will be available to global users, and the integration of games and more than 100 partners of LINE NFT in Japan into the DOSI platform. In addition, it will offer a new development tool to help Web 2 brands transform into web3 digital products and give users ownership to trade their products directly on DOSI. Line Next will also release a new social app allowing users to communicate via AI avatars and launch new web3 games utilizing Line’s character Brown and Friends.
“For the full launch in January, we are increasing the services we offer, adding digital products for brand memberships, and expanding content, event tickets and games,” Kim told TechCrunch. “We also plan on adding major, international mobile payment options beyond Naver Pay and LINE Pay.”
Line Next wants to “popularize” web3 for all, Kim continued. “We target all users who own or want to own valuable digital products, including app users, gamers, consumers and users who enjoy entertainment.”
When asked about the NFT market’s downturn and possible resurgence after the NFT boom in 2021 and 2022, the company “believes that NFTs will become a new standard for valuable digital goods,” Kim said, adding that, “In the early stages of the NFT market, there were a lot of speculative products in the industry… and we are aiming to build and expand that market [again].”
During its beta product period, the company has amassed 5.5 million users globally, making more than 470,000 cumulative transactions. Line Next, founded in 2021, generates revenue by charging platform fees from users, the company said, adding that it will create additional revenue models in the process of issuing, distributing and trading digital products.
One of the things that sets Line Next apart from its competitors is its global infrastructure and know-how based on its global services, Kim noted. And, Line Next will provide its services on its public blockchain mainnet, Finschia, which is 400x faster in transaction speed and 98% lower in network usage fee than Ethereum.
Line Next Korea manages web3 business strategy, while Line Next U.S. operates the NFT platform business.
Last year, Line Next raised $10 million in strategic investment from ten companies such as SoftBank Corporation, Naver, Naver Webtoon, Naver Z, Line Games, CJ ENM, YG Plus, Hashed, Shinsegae and K Auction. Line Next is 100% owned by LY Corporation, a merger of SoftBank Group’s Z Holdings and four subsidiaries, including Line Corporation and Yahoo! Japan.