Webtoon platform Kakao Piccoma buys 50% of Japan’s Sakura Exchange

Kakao Piccoma, a Japanese digital comics’ subscription service and subsidiary of the Korean internet company Kakao, has purchased a 50% controlling stake in the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Sakura Exchange Bitcoin (SEBC).

That makes Kakao its largest shareholder and the deal is also expected to help Kakao offer cryptocurrency services on its Piccoma webtoon platform, and expand aggresively into Web3, according to local media reports. Piccoma is the largest webtoon platform in Japan, and in 2021 its app marked $1 billion in consumer spend after six years in the Japanese market.

The amount Kakao paid for its stake in the exchange has not been disclosed.

SEBC is one of only 30 crypto-asset exchanges registered in Japan with the Financial Services Agency (FSA) and lists 11 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), XRP, and Litecoin (LTC).

Related: Japan plans to tighten crypto exchange regulation to enforce sanctions

In mid-March, Kakao’s founder Kim Beom-soo, also known as Brian Kim, stepped down from the board of directors to focus on the company’s affiliate brands, especially on the Kakao Piccoma brand in Japan. The acquisition of SEBC is the first merger and acquisition move from Kakao since Kim resigned.

Kakao has showed interest in the crypto space before. In August last year Kakao launched two blockchain companies in Singapore, the Klaytn Foundation, a non-profit organization and Krust, a global accelerator for blockchain technology adoption.

Kakao also runs a specialized blockchain subsidiary called Ground X, which won a central bank digital currency (CBDC) tender from the Bank of Korea in July 2021, becoming the chief technology supplier for blockchain-based digital won simulations.

Prior, the company also was an early investor in the Upbit exchange, the first crypto exchange to file with South Korea’s financial regulators.

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