LINE, the Japanese messaging app, plans to invest 20 billion JPY ($182 million) into its payments business in an effort to grow that area of its operations.
According to a report, the capital injection will go to the LINE Pay digital payments unit. LINE said in a filing that they are “necessary funds for its future business operation.” The filing didn't provide any additional details.
Last year was a tough 12-month period for LINE, with the company posting a loss of 5.79 billion JPY. Revenue did jump 24 percent compared to the year earlier. The company's chat app is popular among iPhone users, consistently a top earner in the App Store. The report noted that efforts to build content around the messaging and gaming platforms have cost the company a significant amount of money, as it is pouring funds into its payments business in an effort to boost engagement of all the other apps in its ecosystem.
LINE sees a big opportunity for digital payments in Japan, given that its chat app has about 50 million registered users and is the leader in the country’s market. While Japan has long advocated for using cash, the government plans to use the 2020 Olympic Games to get people used to digital payments. LINE is also reportedly rolling out a Visa credit card and has inked a deal with Tencent, the Chinese internet giant and operator of the WeChat messaging app, to reach Chinese consumers.
LINE Pay is also available in Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia. The report noted that LINE has 165 million monthly active users in those countries combined and 40 million registered LINE Pay customers. It hasn't been so lucky in Singapore where it had to shut down operations in February. In September LINE announced it was raising about $1.33 billion through convertible bonds to expand into the financial services market. The company said at the time it would issue zero coupon convertible bonds maturing in 2023 and 2025.