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Free messaging app provider Line Corp. on Wednesday reported a group net loss of ¥46.9 billion for the business year that ended in December last year, the biggest such loss at the firm since its stock market debut in 2016.

The result, against the net loss of ¥3.7 billion in 2018, was due to ballooning costs, mainly those related to the firm’s Line Pay smartphone-based payment service.

Group sales in 2019 rose 9.8 percent from the previous year to a record ¥227.5 billion. The number of users of the company’s services in Japan increased to stand at 83 million as of the end of December, allowing its advertising revenue to grow some 16 percent.

The number of Line Pay users at the end of December rose 30 percent from three months before to 3.7 million, thanks to a Japanese government-funded point reward program introduced in line with the consumption tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent on Oct. 1 last year.

Line and Z Holdings Corp., the parent of internet portal Yahoo Japan Corp., are slated to integrate their businesses in October this year.

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