Investments

Messaging App LINE Eyes FinServ With $1.3B Fundraise

Japan’s LINE Corporation is raising around 148.1 billion yen ($1.33 billion) through convertible bonds so it can expand into the financial services (FinServ) business. LINE, the owner of Japan’s most popular messaging service, said on Tuesday (Sept. 4) that it will issue zero coupon convertible bonds maturing in 2023 and 2025, with a portion going to its South Korea-based parent company Naver Corp. so it can keep its ownership above 70 percent.

LINE will then use the majority of the funds raised to promote its LINE Pay app, as well as other financial services, by the end of 2021, according to Reuters. LINE Pay allows users to send money to one another using the company’s chat app, as well as to perform offline payments at stores. The company revealed that the service’s transaction volume increased 83 percent to 195 billion yen in its second quarter, no doubt bolstered by the messaging app’s 164 million monthly active users (MAUs) in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

In addition, the company has partnered with Nomura Holdings on an internet-focused securities brokerage, and has set up a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange BITBOX. However, LINE has yet to receive regulatory approval to operate as an exchange in Japan.

While LINE is mainly a messaging app, customers use it to read the news, get a taxi ride and find part-time work. Last year, LINE announced it was moving into the digital assistant market to compete against the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon, with a digital assistant that speaks Japanese and Korean so it can converse with users, and provide weather and news via a dedicated smartphone app or speaker.

“There is a shift toward toward post-smartphone, post-touch technologies,” said Chief Executive Officer Takeshi Idezawa at the time. “These connected devices will permeate even deeper into our daily lives and, therefore, must even closer match the local needs, languages and cultures.”

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