Line pops up with cartoon merchandise

Line Corporation, operator of the free call and messaging app, will launch its own cartoon character merchandising products in Thailand next year to capitalise on its huge user base here.

Nuttawut Lertsrimongkol, the senior manager for global business at Line Thailand, said the move by the Japanese firm is aimed at creating a new revenue stream.

Line has 39 official accounts. It will establish a local permanent office early next year with at least 20 staff.

Mr Nuttawut said Line will set up a Line pop-up store next year to sell its cartoon mobile hard cases and dolls.

The company will allow the official Line Flash Sale account to sell its merchandise products using mobiles.

To widen its payment channels beyond credit cards, Line joined with Advanced Mpay, the mobile payment arm of Advanced Info Service, and MOL Access Portal to allow AIS's prepaid users to use their refill cards to pay for Line's stickers and games.

Mr Nuttawut said Line is focusing on retaining its existing 20 million users in Thailand. It has 300 million users globally.

"Thailand ranks second for the most Line users after Japan," he said.

The firm is spending 50 million baht on TV advertising in Thailand this quarter.

Supreecha Limpikanjanakowit, the managing director of Advanced Mpay Co, said AIS is moving aggressively to expand its mobile payment service to cash in on the burgeoning prepaid refill card market.

AIS has 35 million prepaid users.

Prepaid refill card revenue is expected to account for 8% of Mpay's mobile refill card revenue this year, worth 6 billion baht, expected to increase to 10% in 2014.

Preecha Paipattarakul, the chief executive of MOL Access Portal (Thailand), a joint venture with a Malaysian game cash card distributor, said the collaboration with AIS will enable it to reach AIS's huge prepaid user base.

Thailand's online payments are expected to be valued at 4.5 billion baht this year, rising to 5 billion in 2014.

Most online payments are for online games. Mobile content including Line stickers, mobile games and music are expected to increase significantly in the near future.

About the author

Writer: Suchit Leesa-nguansuk
Position: Senior Reporter