Line Augments Mobile Payments Service With Branded Visa Card

February 1, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

The Line chat service is one of the biggest such operations in Japan, with around 50 million users registered to the system so far. It’s also branched out into mobile payments recently with its Line Pay digital wallet. Now, new reports have arrived to note that Line is further expanding the mobile payments operations with a new connection to Visa, one that will provide a branded payment card to the Line system.

The cards are poised to come out later this year, the reports note, and give Line Pay users access to any retailer that currently accepts Visa, which is most of them. Those who put the new card to use quickly will get a special benefit; for the first year of use, customers will get three percent cash back in the form of Line Points, its virtual currency used for stickers and similar content.

Interestingly, this isn’t Line’s first push into payment cards. It offered a line of them starting back in 2016, complete with support from Japan’s own JCB. This one, however, should represent a significant upgrade and plenty of extra reason to use the system.

Some might regard this as a step back; particularly in places like China, mobile payments are regarded as the future of commerce while a card, or cash, is seen as backward. Mobile payments, however, face serious struggles in other markets, including major industrialized nations like the United States or, again, Japan.

Regardless of the cultural mores surrounding the concept, one thing is abundantly clear: in Japan, payment cards still have a significant place in the market. For Line to ignore this concept is to all but ensure a reduced potential market reach and lose out on significant income accordingly. So it’s stepped up and brought its users just what they want: a familiar, but useful, mobile payments system that also provides added advantages ¬†and a kind of built-in loyalty program.

The end result is a system that should be useful to Line users, and give Line access to a new revenue stream that will help keep the lights on and Line operating long-term. Only time will tell just how well the plan works, but if even one percent of its users get in play, that’s a healthy slug of new cash.