Naver to add new features to Line


SEOUL, Oct 10 South Korea’s top portal operator Naver Corp. said Friday its free messenger service Line will launch a number of new businesses this year, including mobile payment and taxicab services, which are meant to link users’ online and offline lives.

Seoul-based Naver said its Tokyo-based affiliate, Line Corp., will offer a mobile payment service within this year, available on both the Android and iOS operating systems. Japanese users will be able to send cash via bank accounts under the platform.

Line had 560 million global users as of Oct. 9, with 54 million of them in Japan. Thailand, Taiwan, and Spain accounted for 33 million, 17 million, and 18 million users, respectively. The app has an estimated 10 million users in South Korea, where its main rival, Kakao Talk, dominates the market with 35 million.

Naver said Line will also launch a delivery service, “Line Wow,” starting in Japan this year. The service will initially cover restaurants in Tokyo and gradually expand to cover other regions and products.

“Line Taxi” will kick off in Tokyo, with the company planning to expand the business model to other countries as well.

In August, Naver’s home rival, Daum Kakao, the operator of Kakao Talk, had said it was looking into the taxi business, adding it was one of numerous businesses under consideration.

Naver said Line will also set up a new joint venture specializing in gaming content, while “Line Music,” scheduled to launch in Japan, will provide music streaming services to users.

Line earned 18.2 billion yen (US$168 million) in revenue in the April-June period this year, up 146 percent from a year earlier.