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Line, Japan’s Most Popular Messaging App, Is Setting Its Sights on Fintech

By NexChange
FinTech, AI, Blockchain

In an effort to remain disruptive, Japan’s most popular messaging app is branching onto the fintech space, according to PYMNTS:

In an interview with the The Financial Times, Shin Jung-ho, the founder of the company said Line is expanding into cashless payments and FinTech in an effort to not remain complacent or stagnant. “My biggest priority is to ensure that the company is in a constant position to deliver innovation,” Shin said in an interview. “As cases in the U.S. and Europe show, the fear is that we will become big and sluggish.”

The company plans to use its mobile payment service, Line Pay, to ramp up its fintech offerings in-line with Japan’s plan to double its cashless payments rates.

Shin’s comments come shortly after his appointment to co-CEO alongside President Takeshi Idezawa. In the announcement, Line’s “second growth phase” is said to be in pursuing more “service-driven” and “wow-inducing” solutions, and the duo aim to “carve into” new domains such as AI, fintech, and blockchain to make it happen.

The move also comes after some nasty results for Line. Since its listing in 2016, the company posted its first loss last year – over $33 million – and some analysts are concerned that this bet might not pay off. Shin, however, seems unperturbed:

“There are challenges to expanding into new areas like FinTech and payment,” said Shin. “But if users want this and it is an area where we can contribute to improving their lives, we need to take on the challenge even if there are some risks.”

At any rate, Shin believes that cementing his group’s “fearless” corporate culture as a critical part of his job going forward. As the Financial Times notes, his industry is rapidly changing, and while Line may be Japan’s most popular messaging app, it’s 164 million monthly active users are a fraction of WhatsApp’s and WeChat’s billion-strong user bases.

“What Line is worried about the most is not the lack of resources to hire exceptional people, but whether we can offer the kind of innovative environment for the top talent we have hired to continue taking on challenges,” Mr Shin said.

What about Facebook recent entry into the space? Shin says that while the social media juggernaut rolled in “quite late,” it’s still a force to reckon with. That said, he doesn’t seem particularly worried about it:

“…we have spent years trying to understand the needs of our user base, and I am convinced we can offer services that are even more satisfying to our users.”

Photo: Jon Russell

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