Japanese cellular messaging firm Line has given a serious trace as to the way it plans to make its messaging app a one-stop store for nearly any digital transaction.
First up, Line has offloaded a majority stake in its cellular digital community operator (MVNO) subsidiary to SoftBank. The deal will see SoftBank procure 51 % of Line Cellular, with Line retaining the remaining 49 %.
A subsidiary of South Korea’s largest internet operator, Naver Corp, Line’s WhatsApp-style messaging app now claims 220 million customers, the vast majority of that are based mostly in only a handful of Asian markets — together with Japan. The corporate has additionally branched into quite a few different verticals, together with video games, apps, mobile payments, carpooling, smart speakers, and, certainly, cellular networks.
Line, which embarked on a dual IPO in Tokyo and New York almost two years again, first revealed plans to develop into an MVNO in early 2016, earlier than launching it to the general public later that 12 months by way of a licensing partnership with NTT DoCoMo.
Quick ahead 16 months, and it’s clear that Line wants a more in-depth strategic alliance with one of many huge three cellular community operators in Japan, one in all which is SoftBank. Full particulars of the partnership are nonetheless to be determined by means of “mutual consultations,” however it ought to in fact imply that Line will change from NTT DoCoMo to SoftBank’s community. Moreover, they plan to pool their collective strengths to develop into a “one-stop location” for the whole lot. So in impact, SoftBank will leverage Line’s scale and attain as a messaging firm, whereas Line can entry SoftBank’s promotional and monetary may to push its services and products to thousands and thousands extra throughout the area.
That is what Line refers to as its “good portal technique,” which it stated it hopes will rework the Line messaging app right into a conduit that “seamlessly connects individuals to data and providers, in addition to to corporations and types,” based on a press release.
“I’m absolutely assured that Line Cellular will develop into one of many main cellular telecommunication providers demanded by customers sooner or later by means of its three proposed values of ‘easy,’ ‘free,’ and ‘worth’,” stated Ayano Kado, president of Line Cellular. “By means of this partnership between Line — which delivered to mild a brand new type of communication within the smartphone era — and SoftBank –the primary provider in Japan to hold the iPhone and drove the smartphone market — we’ll deliver collectively our mutual strengths and try to additional enhance customers’ experiences with Line Cellular.”
Elsewhere in Line land, the corporate additionally introduced a brand new subsidiary referred to as Line Monetary Company, which is able to function a complementary enterprise to its current cellular funds firm, Line Pay, which launched in 2014. Line stated that its Line Pay service, which works by means of the Line messaging app, processed ¥450 billion ($four.1 billion) final 12 months, with 40 million registered customers.
The brand new Line Monetary enterprise unit was established on January 10 this 12 months with round ¥5 billion ($46 million) in capital. It’ll basically assist to create a brand new avenue for transacting all method of monetary merchandise, together with loans and insurance coverage by means of the Line messaging app. However extra apparently, Line stated that it plans to function a cryptocurrency alternate too. The corporate stated that it has began the method for registering as a digital foreign money alternate with the Monetary Providers Company, however gave no indication as to when this can possible bear fruit.
This all feeds into the broader societal push in direction of a cashless and — more and more — a walletless society. Line needs your cellphone to be the solely merchandise it’s good to purchase something you need.