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SoftBank unit seeks worldwide NFT mall development

SoftBank unit seeks worldwide NFT mall development

SoftBank Group Corp.’s Z Holdings Corp. is banking on NFTs and its PayPay service to drive growth as it invests extensively to expand its global footprint.

SoftBank merged Line Corp., one of Asia’s most popular messaging apps, with Yahoo Japan last year to create an e-commerce and social media powerhouse capable of competing with global IT behemoths. According to the company’s CEO, Z Holdings now plans to launch an NFT marketplace in 180 countries this spring and is spending massive sums of money to triple PayPay’s user base to 90 million.

Web3 has become a catch-all term for a growing range of blockchain-based applications, such as cryptocurrency exchanges, decentralized banking, and NFT trading. It has risen in popularity thanks to celebrity endorsers and venture investors such as Andreessen Horowitz.

Z Holdings, which derives the bulk of its revenue from mobile advertising and spending, is trying to grow, with a five-year budget of around 500 billion yen ($4.3 billion) set aside for development initiatives. Its shares gained 7.8 percent in Tokyo on Thursday, the biggest intraday gain since November. Naver Corp., which owns a share of Z Holdings, surged 9.4 percent during the bigger market rise, while SoftBank jumped more than 4 percent.

“It’s possible Web3 will herald a world where life is completely different and we don’t want the company to miss out on the huge growth opportunity,” Kentaro Kawabe, co-chief executive officer of Z Holdings, said in an interview. “We won’t hesitate to do merger and acquisition deals to boost our presence.”

Following the February launch of an NFT market focusing on music and anime content by Rakuten Group Inc., the company will be among the early adopters of NFT trading in Japan. Animoca Brands, a Web3 investor and content provider, plans to launch its NFT firm in Japan in April and establish a local office.

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One of SoftBank’s more successful businesses has been PayPay, a QR-code-based smartphone payment service established in collaboration with India’s Paytm. PayPay is intended to be another pillar of expansion for Z Holdings, after the first investment in consumer enticements. While the firm’s present focus is on expanding its user base, Kawabe said that he plans to make the company profitable in the future years.

The CEO said that the company’s thinking on taking the PayPay business public is “very flexible.” There are no plans for an initial public offering at this time, and Z Holdings may elect to keep the unit private depending on business conditions.

Earlier this year, Junichi Miyakawa, CEO of SoftBank Corp., which owns 25% of PayPay, made similar claims. SoftBank Group owns 50 percent of PayPay, with Yahoo Japan owning the remaining 25 percent. According to Miyakawa in a February earnings conference, SoftBank sees an opportunity for development beyond its current 45 million PayPay clients, which represent for more than half of all smartphone users in Japan. The volume of payments is the “most important” success measure for the firm, according to him.

According to intelligence analyst Ian Ma, Z Holdings may be on track to fulfill its mid-term revenue target of two trillion yen by fiscal 2024, as the Line merger boosts advertising monetization. This might help the firm achieve its objective of being the most valuable Japanese e-commerce platform in the future years. “While ZHD’s ambition of becoming Japan’s e-commerce leader in the early 2020s is lofty, it may benefit from unmet online demand while offline transactions continue to dominate.”

To now, U.S. heavyweights have generally been responsible for the most significant advancements to the internet, but “we’d want to find a way to do it ourselves,” Kawabe added.

About Nicolle

She is an Indian Freelance writer. She loves thinking, learning, and writing about all things Web3.

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