TOKYO – September 10, 2020 – LINE Corporation ("LINE") held its annual business conference today. This year the event, titled “LINE DAY 2020: Tomorrow's New Normal,” was held fully online.
The archived stream can be viewed at the link below:
Takeshi Idezawa (Representative Director, President, and CEO of LINE Corporation)
2) COVID-19 × LINE
Ayumi Inagaki (Senior Executive Officer and Head of LINE Platform Planning at LINE Corporation)
3) New Normal × Technology
Jungho Shin (Co-CEO, CWO/Founder of LINE Corporation)
Audrey Tang (Taiwan Digital Minister)
Osamu Inoue (Journalist and Representative Director of Renews Inc.)
4) New Normal × Food
Hideo Fujii (President and CEO of Demae-can Co. Ltd.)
5) New Normal × Local Business
Yuki Ikehata (Executive Officer and Head of Advertising Business at LINE Corporation)
6) New Normal × Payment
Hisahiro Chofuku (President and CEO of LINE Pay Corporation)
7) New Normal × Money
Ryugo Kawasaki (Head of Product Planning at LINE Credit Corporation)
8) New Normal × Healthcare
Shinichiro Muroyama (President and Representative Director of LINE Healthcare Corporation)
9) New Normal × Information
Takeshi Shimamura (Senior Executive Officer and Head of Portal and Media Businesses)
10) New Normal × Entertainment
Jun Masuda (Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer of LINE Corporation)
In the opening, CEO Takeshi Idezawa spoke about the immense, ongoing changes that the coronavirus has caused around the world. While acknowledging the negatives, he also spoke of the opportunities that have arisen: the chance to completely rethink long-standing customs and social norms, and the possibilities for new innovation. With the virus having become a catalyst for social change, the current situation—the "new normal"—is the very embodiment of a paradigm shift, and will be looked back on as people talk about what life was like before and after the pandemic. Along with the power of digital technologies, digital transformation (DX) will become important in every sense of the word when aiming to improve this new normal.
Under its corporate mission of "Closing the Distance," LINE has developed a wide range of services and businesses to bring people around the world closer to each other, information, and services. The company will continue leveraging the power of technology, striving to offer the optimal distance even in a world where the coronavirus crisis has made social distancing the standard.
COVID-19 × LINE
The COVID-19 × LINE session gave an overview of the projects LINE undertook amid the growing number of infections and ever-changing situation, as well as the shifting face of communication.
LINE's projects during the coronavirus crisis
As the novel coronavirus continued to spread, LINE was constantly exploring what actions it could take. When the Diamond Princess cruise ship was placed under quarantine at the port of Yokohama in February, the company provided support to the confined passengers by distributing 2,000 iPhones. Each phone had a pre-installed official account that served as a consultation service. LINE was also active on the educational front when the Japanese government ordered schools to be closed later in that same month. The company offered its Official Account service to all elementary, middle, and senior high schools nationwide for free under a special "School Plan," as well as streamed downsized graduation ceremonies on LINE LIVE. In the latter half of March, LINE then teamed up with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to conduct a survey among LINE's domestic users and assist the ministry in formulating a response against the disease. Additionally, the company has worked on an array of other initiatives, including online-based diagnoses and support services for individuals, raising awareness on preventing infection, supporting education and day-to-day life, and supporting businesses.
The "new normal" of communication and LINE
The pandemic has brought about major changes to not only people's lifestyles, but also to the ways they communicate. The way the LINE app is being used has also changed, with demand for group video chat in particular having experienced a rapid surge. This led LINE to move quickly to expand the app's functions and offer group-oriented features such as "Watch Together" (allows users to share their phone screen or a YouTube video in a group call), and "LINE Meeting," which lets users make a group video chat without needing to actually create a group. With these features and more, many users turned to the LINE app not just for communicating with their friends and family, but also for online drinks, online "visits" to their hometown, remote work, and other scenarios that arose from the pandemic. As "online" becomes the norm in this world of the new normal, having a co-presence online and spending time together in real time will now become the standard way of communication. LINE will continue to pursue ways of communication that complements the new normal and keep delivering updates that fulfills the needs of both users and the times.
New Normal × Technology
In the New Normal × Technology session, Taiwan Digital Minister Audrey Tang was the keynote speaker. With journalist and Renews Inc. Representative Director Osamu Inoue serving as moderator, Tang exchanged thoughts and views with LINE's Co-CEO and CWO/Founder Jungho Shin on how to go about approaching technology and living in this new normal.
Cooperation between Taiwan's public and private sectors on the coronavirus response
The session kicked off with Tang explaining Taiwan's coronavirus response, which has garnered attention worldwide. She described the three pillars—fast, fair, and fun—of the country's response, the lessons learned from the 2003 SARS outbreak, and its "mask map" system and the technologies and trust between government and citizens that helped make it a reality. Continuing the topic of cooperation between public and private, she also described the quarantine hotel program for citizens returning home, and the chatbot co-developed by the government and tech companies (with LINE Taiwan among them) to support those quarantining at home. For his part, Shin spoke of how vital it was for private sector companies to regularly communicate and collaborate with government agencies/municipalities if they wanted to contribute as swiftly as possible in a crisis. He described LINE's own case and how internal discussions deliberated over what the LINE app—itself invented because of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake—could do to help in this pandemic, and the timeline of events that led to the company assisting in government initiatives such as the nationwide survey. Tang was also asked her thoughts on how private sector companies could do their part as the pandemic continues. She expressed her expectations toward strategies that could curb the infodemic and praised LINE Taiwan's CSR activities in providing the LINE Fact Checker.
Integration of AI and society and how Asian tech companies should approach the new normal
On the topic of how AI could be integrated into society, Tang said that she thought of AI as "assistive intelligence" that should exist to help people. She also emphasized that if this was to be achieved, it would be essential for AI to possess values that aligned with users as well as accountability. Shin spoke about LINE's current R&D efforts and its focus on using AI to provide new value and convenience to its users. He also mentioned the company's partnership with Fukuoka City for a smart city initiative. Lastly, the two addressed the question of Asian companies and what kind of vision they should have in response to the new normal. Shin said that it would be important for any vision to have a human-first perspective and determine how the company would assist both its own users and citizens at large. For Tang, she said it would be essential for big tech companies to show that they are working to reinforce the societal norms of whichever country they are doing business in, and referred to the Taiwanese government's own emphasis on "radical transparency" as a norm.
New Normal × Food
In the New Normal × Food session, food delivery company Demae-can Co. Inc.'s ("Demae-can") President and CEO Hideo Fujii took to the stage. With over 30,000 restaurants listed on the Demae-can platform, he described the company's current situation amid the coronavirus and the heightened demand for food deliveries, as well as the "synergy" with the LINE Group in creating a new normal for food deliveries.
Cloud kitchens and new kinds of delivery services
Utilizing a cloud kitchen scheme, Demae-can has teamed up with popular restaurants to capture a new demographic of users. The company has also developed new types of deliveries such as the "Arena Delivery" service for B.League games, and a delivery service catering to "remote matches" for professional soccer team Cerezo Osaka. In addition, not only has the company introduced measures to prevent the spread of the virus among staff and customers, but it has bolstered its CSR activities by teaming up with local governments to promote food deliveries and provide meals to children's cafeterias and orphanages.
Merging brand names and venturing into takeout
LINE and Demae-can plan to merge the LINE Delima service into the Demae-can brand and eventually unify the two services' user IDs to open up the service to LINE's 84 million users. The company also plans to enter the takeout sector by adding LINE Pokeo's takeout order feature to the Demae-can service. By integrating the LINE Delima and LINE Pokeo services, Demae-can will endeavour to make itself into a food marketing platform.
New Normal × Local Business
The New Normal × Local Business session covered the ways that the coronavirus has changed communication between businesses and their customers. It then went on to share LINE's view on what a "new normalized" local business might look like as well as the worldview the company is aiming for.
Announcement of new service "LINE de Yoyaku" and Gurunavi as first partner
From November 2020, LINE will launch its new booking service, LINE de Yoyaku, which will allow users to book online or via LINE chat (either through a person or through an automated system) by accessing a store’s official LINE account or in-app information page. For its first partner, the service has joined forces with Gurunavi Inc. This tie-up will allow customers to book Gurunavi listed restaurants—for those that offer online reservation services—through the LINE app. With the pandemic moving users to look for other easy, non-face-to-face ways to use stores, LINE de Yoyaku offers a smooth user experience with its seamless in-app search and booking process.
Revealing "LINE Place" for outdoor experiences in the new normal
LINE announced its new in-app media for finding information on restaurants, LINE Place. Users can access collections from the LINE app's home tab or a chat room and browse restaurants by themes and scenarios. They can also create their own collection of favorite locations and share it to the LINE Place page, or share collections or information on individual restaurants through chat. LINE Place aims to facilitate outings in the new normal by offering a way for users to obtain information from their LINE friends, choose a restaurant with their "real" friends, and then easily make a booking. The service is slated for release from February 2021.
Trial for "LINE POP Media" announced: in-store digital solution that replaces physical POP displays
LINE will begin offering a trial for its in-store digital POP solution, LINE POP Media. Leveraging LINE Beacon, the service lets stores send information on recommended products, coupons and more to customers who have the LINE app open as they browse in-store. The solution ensures that information will reach customers in a non-face-to-face way, making POP easier for understaffed stores that cannot put up new paper-based displays or hand out fliers due to infection concerns. A trial version of the solution will roll out from September 2020. In the first phase, LINE plans to offer LINE Points to users who open up the LINE app while inside a store.
Unveiling of campaign platform "LINE de Obo"
LINE announced LINE de Obo: a new campaign platform that makes it easy for anyone to enter campaigns via the LINE app. The reminder feature allows users to receive notifications from other services such as LINE Flyer, LINE Official Account, LINE Ads, and LINE Beacon to ensure they never miss any deals or forget to enter a campaign. Aiming to be accessible and easy to use, the platform offers multiple entry methods (including via LINE Pay payments and serial numbers printed on receipts) and an array of features all in the one place. Above all, businesses can offer a way for users to safely participate in campaigns during the pandemic, which otherwise makes paper-based raffles, handing out of fliers, and other traditional promotions difficult. In future, LINE plans to improve the platform's convenience even further by adding features such as address autocomplete for snail mail campaigns. LINE de Obo will begin releasing in stages from September 2020.
Driving DX in community development
In the area of community development, LINE has been promoting digital transformation (DX). From September 1, LINE Fukuoka partnered with Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co. Ltd. in a Japan first that made it possible for users to search for value passes (a combination of the railway's train tickets with a sightseeing package) and pay with LINE Pay through the Nishi-Nippon Railroad official LINE account. A LINE chatbot can also deliver notifications whenever a user is in an area where discounted services are available. Furthermore, the official account is linked to Google Maps and Nishitetsu Bus's transfer information site and helpdesk to make trips even smoother.
In another partnership, LINE has also been working with Tokyu Corporation to assist the latter in leveraging the LINE app to digitalize customer touchpoints. Other initiatives include allowing customers to top up their LINE Pay accounts at Tokyu line ticket machines, as well as the Tokyu Group's pioneering OMO strategy of using LINE Official Account for its Tokyu Store supermarket chain. As the next step, the company plans to further utilize LINE Official Account to link up LINE user IDs across the entire group and use the LINE app to run campaigns for the group's diverse businesses—placing the LINE app at the center of its efforts to expand touchpoints with consumers.
New Normal × Payment
In this session, LINE announced the usage trends of LINE Pay users and participating merchants, as well as new services and its vision in response to the age of the new normal. The keyword used in this session was "contactless," expressing what lay ahead for cashless payments as it continues to gain traction during the coronavirus crisis.
Make payments via LINE official accounts: announcement of "LINE Pay Shiharai Link" (launching in November)
LINE Pay Shiharai Link will officially be released in November, mainly targeting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Participating businesses can create and send a link to their customers to make payments, and can apply to use this feature for free until July 2021. Furthermore, by linking their LINE Official Account with LINE Pay, businesses can utilize an end-to-end service—from providing customer service to receiving payment for a purchase—with just a few settings and no technical development involved.
Making payments completely contactless: LINE Pay announces Apple Pay support (launching in 2020)
Within this year, LINE Pay users will be able to use their LINE Pay funds at merchants that support Apple Pay. In addition to making payments via the Visa LINE Pay credit card, users can pay using the prepaid method through their iPhone or Apple Watch. This will not only allow users to use their LINE Pay funds in more places than ever, but they can also tap to pay: a payment method that is familiar to the Japanese people.
Viewing utility bills on the LINE app: unveiling an industry-first initiative with Tokyo Gas
LINE is currently working with Tokyo Gas to develop a service that enables gas and electricity bills to be sent to the LINE app, and also allow users to pay these bills using LINE Pay. The companies plan to launch the service in spring 2021 in Japan. This enables users to pay their utility bills anytime, anywhere, and without having to scan the barcode on the bill, making payment more convenient for users. Users can now receive and pay their bills, receive payment reminders, view their payment history, and manage their household budget seamlessly on the LINE app.
LINE Pay not only contributes to the further growth of money transfer and payment services, but also helps improve convenience as it leverages the characteristics of LINE's reliable and secure platform and promotes the use of its online identity verification service, eKYC.
LINE Pay closes the distance between people, money, and services by eliminating the existing pain-points—time, effort, fees, and more—of circulating money. The company aims to lead the mobile payment industry as the world moves increasingly towards a cashless and walletless society.
New Normal × Money
The New Normal × Money session described how the coronavirus crisis had increased demand for borrowing money and impacted individuals with diverse working styles. The session also unveiled a new credit model developed for LINE Pocket Money.
Redesigning credit assessment with "LINE Activity Model 2.0"
LINE Pocket Money—a personal loan service where application, assessment and repayment can all be completed on the LINE app—offered loans based on traditional credit information (such as salary and employment) and a user's LINE Score, which leverages user's behavioral data on the LINE platform. However, towards the end of this year, the company will roll out a new credit model, LINE Activity Model 2.0.
From now on, LINE will implement a unique credit model that focuses more on the online activities of individual users to redesign the concept of credit assessment.
Growth in number of approved loans since March 2020
Analyzing the demographics of LINE Pocket Money users, many of them have diverse work styles, with the ratio of users who are self employed, dispatch/contract employees, or part-time workers being 10% higher than the industry average.* As a result, the total number of approved loans and loan volume is growing steadily even during the coronavirus crisis, reaching JPY 100 billion in the middle of 2020.
LINE will continue to create a fair service for individuals, focusing on credit assessment based on user behavioral data outside of the financial domain.
*Based on the "Report on the Management and Activities of Businesses in the Loan Industry" from Japan Financial Services Association's homepage: https://www.j-fsa.or.jp/doc/material/report/200331.pdf (Japanese only)
New Normal × Healthcare
In this session, LINE announced how its medical consultation service has been used during the coronavirus outbreak, and LINE Healthcare's vision as it looks ahead to the new normal of merging online with offline.
Usage trends of the medical consultation service during the coronavirus outbreak
Since it's launch in December 2019, LINE Healthcare's medical consultation service has received a large number of requests for medical consultation—approximately 300,000 in total—during the outbreak.
Many users find that the service reduces their stress of going to the hospital, as they can find out which specialist to go to before actually arriving at the facility. They also find it useful for asking about self-care at home. As a new platform that connects users with healthcare, the company will continue to provide a safe and secure service.
Online consultation service "LINE Doctor" (launching in November)
LINE Doctor is an online consultation service where users can have a video consultation with their doctor through LINE video call.
Planned for launch on November 2020, the service enables users to seamlessly search for clinics, book appointments, receive consultation, and pay on the LINE app.
Users will not need to pay for additional fees except for the consultation fee.*1 Healthcare providers will be able to choose from a range of plans based on the operating environment, features, and more. From November, LINE Healthcare will start offering a Basic Plan, which has the feature to book appointments, use LINE video call, and settle payments using payment services like LINE Pay—a mobile money transfer and payment service. There will be no initial or monthly cost.*2
*1: Cost for prescription drugs and delivery fees are required.
*2: Excludes transaction fees.
From September 10, LINE Healthcare will start accepting inquiries from healthcare providers about LINE Doctor's Basic Plan. Visit the following page for more information:
https://linehealthcarecorp.com/ja/lp/common/recruit/clinic-202009 (Japanese only)
Going forward, the company will continue to make OMO within the healthcare domain a reality as it looks to cooperate with companies for online consultations on medication—enabling patients to receive online consultation from pharmacists on their medication at home and have the medication delivered to them.
New Normal × Information
This session described the challenges that LINE NEWS faced in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and the various issues that emerged from these challenges. The company invited Gen Miyazawa, who leads media businesses such as Yahoo News, to talk about media and the what the new normal of "information" itself meant.
LINE NEWS during the coronavirus crisis
Due to the coronavirus crisis, information—such as the ever-changing situation of coronavirus infections, social change, and what actions to take—has become closer and more important than ever in people's daily lives. Against this background, LINE NEWS—with over 1,000 media partnerships and generating more than 9,500 pieces of content per day—grappled with knowing what sort of information their users wanted, and what information should be given to users during this unprecedented time.
LINE NEWS has delivered as much information as it can within a limited amount of time. From among the vast amount of information disseminated from media, LINE NEWS has been creating summarized articles on the coronavirus situation to deliver information that users need to know based on number of infections and social landscape. Additionally, it teamed up with JX Press Corporation and the coronavirus expert committee to deliver more accurate, real-time data. It has also developed the video-based "NEWS Graffiti" news article service, aiming to be intuitive and visually appealing so that as many users as possible can be reached. LINE NEWS has also been posting information on the Smart Channel at the top of the LINE app's chat list, as well as creating a tab and an Official Account specific to the virus.
Challenges that emerged from the crisis and the new normal of information
LINE NEWS has also faced new challenges while it was working on these projects. These include all the difficulties involved with conveying data and figures, finding methods to collect information that is relevant to certain regions of Japan and practical for users' daily lives, fake news/information, and news reports that excessively provoke anxiety. Underlying all these is the problem of how mass media and social media acts as filters (i.e. the “mass media filter” and “social media filter”): determining or overlooking what types of information are provided. LINE NEWS will continue to deliver the new normal of information by overcoming these challenges.
New Normal × Entertainment
In this session, CSMO Jun Masuda gave a presentation on the DX of entertainment using the keywords "content" and "experience". LINE will deliver a new form of entertainment that merges the traditional offline experience with a new type of online experience.
Distribute music worldwide for free: 100% of earnings from streams goes to creators with music distribution service "SOUNDALLY" (launching winter 2020 in Japan)
In recent years, users have been able to showcase their talent across an increasing number of platforms due to the rise of social media. In the music world, amateur musicians and indie music are gaining popularity. In particular, music by amateur musicians is popular on LINE MUSIC as their number of streams increased by approximately 530% from January 2019 to July 2020.
Launching in winter 2020 (in Japan), SOUNDALLY is a music distribution service that enables users of all ages to easily release and sell their music on their smartphone. Users can upload as many soundtracks as they like for free, and their music will be distributed worldwide through music streaming services. They are also paid 100% of their earnings from streams.
Establishment of Shochiku DX Consortium to promote DX of cinemas, theaters, and content such as movies and plays
Shochiku Co. Ltd. ("Shochiku"), LINE, and Sproot Inc. ("Sproot") have together established the Shochiku DX Consortium to lead the DX of the entertainment industry. To achieve this, Shochiku will utilize its entertainment content including movies, plays, and comedy as well as their cinema and theater facilities. LINE will utilize its platform, latest technology and know-how on digital marketing, and Sproot will leverage its know-how on digitization of entertainment businesses.
The companies will aim to provide consumers with a quality cinematic experience by promoting the DX of cinemas, and aggregating and analyzing their customer database to visualize the customer journey. They will also deliver a new type of streaming service that provides users with a real life-like experience and increase consumer satisfaction by enhancing marketing strategies in online streaming.
Transformation of LINE Timeline into a content following platform
Multiple accounts available with "MULTI ACCOUNT," where creators can unleash their talent and gain revenue from page views
LINE will release a new feature called MULTI ACCOUNT on Timeline, enabling users to create multiple accounts and use them separately based on the type of content they would like to post. For accounts that meet certain conditions, users can post video content that includes advertisements, therefore gaining advertisement revenue based on the number of views they receive from their content. In addition, the feature also has a self-promote function (a paid service) which enables content creators to have more users viewing their posts and increase the number of people following and visiting their account.
Under its coroporate vision, "Life on LINE," LINE will continue to develop various services and support users' daily lives in the age of the new normal brought about by the coronavirus crisis.