Line to seek revenue beyond messaging apps

Line to seek revenue beyond messaging apps

Line Thailand is strengthening its presence in the mobile app market in a drive to add more revenue streams and go beyond messaging apps.

The company plans to introduce a series of new apps for Line users by June.

Line will establish a single mobile app platform to integrate all existing services into a one-stop solution, enabling users to easily access all apps with one link.

The development is part of Line's direction of "Line beyond chat", said Ariya Banomyong, managing director of Line Thailand.

The online-to-offline (O2O) digital commerce app is an emerging trend in 2016, a business strategy that draws potential customers from online channels to physical stores.

"We believe the number of mobile internet users in Thailand will increase to 50 million this year, up from 40 million in 2015, thanks to the arrival of fourth-generation wireless broadband service," said Mr Ariya.

There are millions of apps for consumers to download from various app stores. But consumers have an average 39 apps installed on their smartphones, and use around 17 of them, he said.

"We believe our apps-within-an-app concept can solve these problems," said Mr Ariya.

Line Thailand has five business divisions: games, digital content, business-to-consumer e-commerce, business-to-business commerce, and mobile payment.

There are 33 million Line users in Thailand, making the country the world's second-largest user base.

Line Thailand is developing new services for both enterprises and Line users.

"We want to be a Life platform in order to facilitate everyday life for people," said Mr Ariya.

There are four emerging trends in Thailand's digital landscape this year spurred by the rapid-growth of mobile internet usage, he said.

The first trend is mobile-first. Thailand is a mobile-first country with 40 million people accessing the internet on smartphones. Of the total, 33 million or 84% are Line users.

Thais spend 5.7 hours a day on smartphones, with Line chats accounting for 83.7 minutes, he said.

Second, smartphones are becoming the main TV screen. Up to 41% of TV/video content is watched on TV screens, while smartphones alone represent 31%.

The third trend is e-commerce/social commerce. Up to 60% of Thailand's online transactions are conducted via mobile devices.

Mobile banking is expected to grow by 33% this year, from 9 million accounts in 2015 to 12 million this year.

Lastly, O2O is set to be a new trend this year. This app is part of Line's apps-within-an-app concept, aiming to facilitate everyday services through one mobile app.

Mr Ariya said Line Thailand is set to develop innovative digital products and services over the next two years that will be used by other countries such as Japan and South Korea.

"Presently, games, digital content and business solutions are core revenue sources for Line Thailand," he said.

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