By Jirapan Boonnoon
Eunjung Lee, senior vice president of global business at Line Corporation, said that Line had entered Thailand six years ago and it remained one of the company’s most important markets.
The firm has launched a strategy this year to tap Thai markets in three areas: online merging with offline (OMO), financial technology (fintech), and artificial intelligence (AI). The firm provides services accessed by an estimated 44 million Thai users.
With the OMO, it goes beyond simply linking online and offline. “It actually unites the digital and real world. By expanding the Line app beyond the online realm and into the offline, and creating a hub for both, the company intends to make the lives of its users even more convenient and comfortable,” said Lee. To help Thai businesses with OMO, the company is introducing the Line Mini App, offering a content management system for companies to help them better engage with their customers.
“We create new services based on the behaviour of users. Under the theme ‘Life on Line’, we believe our three key strategies can help fix people’s common pain points and make daily life more fun and convenient for all Thai users. Line is being more than a messaging app,” said Lee.
In the fintech area, the firm is moving forward to support a cashless society in Thailand as well as offer innovative banking services. Line operates Rabbit Line Pay to support Line Fintech services and is partnering KBank to revolutionise financial services. The fintech business, which operates under the management of Kasikorn Line since its launch in 2018, will see more products being introduced in 2020. Lee said users will be able to better understand their finances, access their credit information and invest safely in four areas: insights, borrowing, insurance, and investment to support a cashless society.
Meanwhile, AI-Line will continue to develop advanced, in-house AI technology, applying it to a wide range of services. For example, AI is helping personalise recommendation features for users as they navigate Line TV, the sticker shop, and ads. In addition, the new Line feature Smart Channel will utilise AI to bring sophisticated and personalised information to users, in a convenient box right at the top of their chat list, Lee said.
Line Thailand’s new CEO, Phichet Ruekpreecha, said that the firm has directions to enable digital transformation of government and provide new solutions as well as platforms to support business.
Phichet said that the firm in the near future will introduce new services such as Line Shopping that will allow users to search and compare prices as well as earn points. It will expand Line Man services to other major cities such as Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya. Line Man delivery services currently cover Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani provinces. It also plans to launch Line Man grocery.
“Line Man plans to respond to surging user demand around Thailand and expand its operations to all major cities by 2020. Line Man is partnering Wongnai and Lalamove to provide even better services, including introducing a new eco-friendly initiative to reduce the use of plastic,” said Phichet.
Another upcoming service is Line Melody, which will allow Line Call users to use hit songs for their melodies and ringtones.
The firm will launch Smart Channel, a personalised information channel.
Line Thailand also unveiled a range of professional solutions geared for businesses, as well as the human relations and public sectors. “With the rise of the 'Industry 4.0' era, the Line ecosystem is growing as an important and effective tool for business, connecting brands with their customers and improving efficiencies,” Phichet said.
In Thailand today, there are three million Line Official Accounts (OA), with 1.3 million OA for retail business and 180,000 OA in restaurants. That success led to the development of Line OA Plus and OA Plus E-Commerce. “Those services will allow customers to purchase products directly through Line Official Account, without having to switch to other applications,” Phichet said.
Other new services include:
Slide ad – a new type of ad for Line Today that makes messages more attractive and engaging.
Smart Channel – offering a space for advertising on the top of the chat list, so marketers can send targeted messages to the right audience at the right time.
Line Idol – allowing pop stars to communicate and build relationships with their fan base more effectively. Line Idol currently features specialised channels for celebrities and bloggers, and has launched two additional categories -- business and sport.
Line’s mobile payment platform continues to grow, said Phichet. There are six million accounts, four million credit/debit cards and five million e-wallets registered with Line.
Line Converge also saw the Line Thailand Awards taking place for the first time, recognising the best performers on the Line platform. Over 26 awards were given out in a wide range of categories, including tech, entertainment, automotive, retail, and the finance industry.