Line, the Japanese company best known for its messaging app this week announced that it will offer a licensed taxi booking service to its users in Bangkok. The service is set to launch before the end of this year.
According to TechCrunch, Thailand is one of Line's four largest markets, and it is also the dominant chat app among its users. That’s undoubtedly why it is expanding into car bookings there before any other part of Southeast Asia.
Uber is under pressure to catch up with Grab across the region, and upstart Go-Jek in Indonesia, so a potentially popular new addition like Line isn’t exactly good news.
Line Thailand said its new service was “developed in compliance with the Department of Land and Transport (DLT)’s regulations and Thai laws” — the legal status of Uber and Grab is somewhat grey in Thailand — which means that the service will work with licensed taxis. It has roped in the Bangkok Taxi Co-operative Network, which claims 60 percent of Bangkok’s 100,000 taxis as members.
For Line, this marks another move to diversify its business and widen its appeal to users. The company went public in a $1.1 billion US-Japan IPO last year, and most of its revenue is derived from its advertising business and in-app purchases within its social gaming apps.