Line Corporation aims to make cashless payment popular in Japan with Line Pay plan

Mr Hisahiro Chofuku, chief operating officer of the Line Pay cashless payment service, announcing plans to popularise Line Pay contactless payment service to make Japan a more cashless society.
Mr Hisahiro Chofuku, chief operating officer of the Line Pay cashless payment service, announcing plans to popularise Line Pay contactless payment service to make Japan a more cashless society.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN
Mr Hisahiro Chofuku, chief operating officer of the Line Pay cashless payment service, announcing plans to popularise Line Pay contactless payment service to make Japan a more cashless society.
Mr Hisahiro Chofuku, chief operating officer of the Line Pay cashless payment service, announcing plans to popularise Line Pay contactless payment service to make Japan a more cashless society. ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

TOKYO - The company behind the popular Line messaging app has ambitions to turn Japan into a "cashless and walletless" society, with a plan to ease more consumers and business onto its own cashless payment service.

During its annual Line Conference on Thursday (June 28), Line Corporation - a Japanese mobile and Internet services company - outlined this goal among its strategies for the year ahead.

While Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, only 18 per cent of all transactions in the country are cashless, compared with 60 per cent in China.

"We want to dramatically change the payment service in Japan," said Mr Hisahiro Chofuku, chief operating officer of the Line Pay cashless payment service.

To do so, Line Corporation intends to popularise its Line Pay service found in its Line messaging app. There are over 75 million monthly active Line users in Japan, which represents nearly half of the population.

First, Line intends to eliminate the initial set-up costs for Japanese small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by launching the Line Pay for Merchants app. This app is designed for QR code payments on Line Pay, so SMEs do not need to invest in contactless payment readers.

In addition, Line will not be charging any transaction fees on payments made using this app for three years, starting from August this year. This is unlike credit card companies that charge transaction fees for such contactless payments.

At the same time, Line is offering customers more incentive to use its cashless payment service by offering loyalty points of between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of every purchase they make using Line Pay. This new incentive program will last for one year, starting from this August as well.

Furthermore, Line Corporation is also looking to make Line Pay available at one million retail locations throughout Japan this year.

During the conference, Line Corporation also announced it is starting a global cryptocurrency exchange called BitBox, sometime next month. BitBox will trade more than 30 cryptocurrencies - including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin - for global users except for those in Japan and the United States.

"As a key part of Line's new financial services, BitBox shows our commitment to fulfilling the growing demand for more diverse financial options," said Mr Takeshi Idezawa, chief executive officer of Line Corporation.

trevtan@sph.com.sg