Korean chat giant Kakao to form blockchain subsidiary

South Korean chat giant Kakao will form a subsidiary that services blockchain, the company announced, with speculation of an imminent ICO to secure funds.

South Korean chat giant Kakao will form a blockchain subsidiary, the company has said.

Han Jaesun, co-founder and CTO of local startup accelerator FuturePlay, will lead the yet-to-be-named firm as CEO, the chat giant said.

Kakao currently offers a blockchain-based authentication service for its mobile payment solution Kakao Pay.

It also owns around 20 percent share of Doonamu, which runs cryptocurrency exchange Upbit.

There is speculation that Kakao will commence an ICO abroad to get cash, although Kakao didn't confirm this.

South Korea banned digital coin offerings locally last year. Cryptocurrency was since a hot-button issue earlier this year following the sensational rise of bitcoin prices.

The government ruled out banning trading but has since then implemented regulations such as blocking anonymous trading. It has also said it will regulate the market and continue to support fostering blockchain technology.

Kakao, which runs South Korea's largest chat app Kakao Talk, has recently made inroads into AI and Internet of Things for new growth, including an AI speaker and a mobile parking service.

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