Rakuten, the Japanese owner of Play.com, has acquired messaging app Viber for $900m (£538m).

The purchase follows its recent acquisition spate in the digital content space which includes ereader firm Kobo and video streaming service Wuaki.tv.

Viber has a growing global user base of 300 million registered users and the buy is designed to help Rakuten reach its goal of becoming the world’s largest internet services company.

Rakuten plans to use the acquisition to penetrate new markets with both its digital content offer and its ecommerce and financial services platforms.

Rakuten chairman and chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani said: “I am tremendously excited to welcome Viber to the Rakuten family. Viber delivers the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available.

“Additionally, Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform. Simply put, Viber understands how people actually want to engage and have built the only service that truly delivers on all fronts. This makes Viber the ideal total consumer engagement platform for Rakuten as we seek to bring our deep understanding of the consumer to vast new audiences through our dynamic ecosystem of internet services.”

Viber chief executive and founder Talmon Marco said: “Rakuten is one of the world’s most important internet companies. It is truly dominant in its home market of Japan and has been rapidly expanding globally. This combination presents an amazing opportunity for Viber to enhance our rapid user growth in both existing and new markets.”