LINE introduced payment functionality to its messaging platform worldwide, laying the foundations for a raft of new services.
LINE Pay, which was announced in October, arrived through an update to the iOS and Android versions of the messaging app. It is not yet available in China and South Korea, however.
The service is touted as a way for 70 million monthly active users to make “secure and convenient payments anytime, anywhere, straight through their smartphone”. It will be operated by LINE Pay Corporation, a new subsidiary.
It will initially allow users to register their payment cards to purchase a range of paid content, such as LINE stickers. For a limited time, purchases made through LINE Pay in the LINE Store will have a bonus of up to 25 per cent added to their balance.
Payment providers supported at launch are American Express, Diner’s Club, JCB, Master Card and Visa. More will be added in the future.
One of the services set to be added is the ability for users to send money to other users, which LINE said would propose “a new future for mobile payment as a means of settlement”. It appears this is currently only available in Japan.
In terms of security, LINE Pay requires a different password to the messaging app and needs users to enter it when using payment or money transfer services and when logging in from a different device.
This prevents the service being used if a third party logs into the user’s LINE account.
In addition, users will be required to verify their LINE account on their smartphone when making payments on the PC-based version of the service. Apple’s Touch ID technology will be used as part of this.
A monitoring system is also in place to detect and report accounts subject to suspicious activity. The company stressed that the only credit card information that will be saved by LINE is an identification code.
The company’s COO Takeshi Idezawa recently told Mobile World Live that the payment functionality will serve as a hub around which a range of services can be based.
These are likely to include a raft of services announced in October, such as a taxi-hailing service (LINE Taxi), music streaming (LINE Music) and e-commerce (LINE WOW).
Other messaging apps now include payment functionality, including KakaoTalk and Snapchat, which recently announced a money transfer tool in partnership with payments company Square.
There have also been suggestions that Facebook could add a peer-to-peer mobile payment service to its Messenger product.