• Bloomberg


Line Corp. has unveiled new services, from credit scoring to an AI-powered robot receptionist, as the operator of Japan’s dominant messaging platform seeks to expand beyond chat.

Line Score will rate users based on information they provide as well as their interactions with other services on the platform. That will determine interest rates and credit limits for a loan service set to be available this summer, executives said Thursday.

The company is trying to move away from an advertising-reliant business model as its user growth plateaus, doubling down on financial services powered by artificial intelligence.

Last year the firm raised ¥148 billion ($1.4 billion) in a convertible bond sale to help fund that expansion. Yet its shares are trading near their lowest since an initial public offering three years ago, pressured by the prospects of further losses.

“Line is no longer just a messenger,” co-Chief Executive Officer Shin Jung-ho told a briefing on Thursday. “We are well on our way to becoming the infrastructure to support our users in their daily lives 24 hours a day.”

Line Score will also be used to generate personalized offers and discounts from partners, including Airbnb and branded-goods rental service Laxus Technologies Inc.

The service will not use any of the messaging or phone call data, which is secured with end-to-end encryption, and will require users to opt in. Sharing of data with partners will also require explicit approval by users. The feature was to go live on Thursday in Japan.

Line’s new Duet service combines chat bots, voice synthesis and natural language processing to create an automated reservation service for small and midsized businesses. While Google announced a similar service, called Duplex, for the U.S. last year, Line’s expertise with the Japanese language gives it a head start locally, CEO Shin said.

“We have 1,000 AI engineers. That’s probably the most of any company in Japan,” Shin said.

The company is also rolling out Line Mini, a tool that allows businesses owners to create apps for the platform without any knowledge of coding. The point-and-click tool offers access to payment, location and notification functions, and can be used to easily create e-commerce services such as loyalty programs.

Line Securities will launch in the fall in collaboration with Nomura Holdings Inc. The service will offer trading of 100 Japanese stocks, with investment lots of as little as ¥150.

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