Messaging app Line is pushing ahead with its financial technology plans, and has announced a wider partnership with Visa to integrate not just contactless payments, but to add a prepaid digital Visa card into the app itself. What’s more, Line states the service will be available to all the 187 million people globally using its app, a departure from many previous additional features from Line — such as Line Music, and the Clova smart home products — which are often only available in its core Japanese, Taiwanese, or Thai markets.
The new Line Pay and Visa feature will let you apply for a digital Visa card that will be stored in the Line app, ready to make payments with any of Visa’s 54 million merchants around the world. A screenshot of the new feature shows the option to add money or to send money, below an image of a Line Pay-branded Visa card. In the future, you will be able to add other Visa cards to the service.
Currently, Line Pay lets you add a Visa card, but to use the payment service you have to visit somewhere that accepts Line Pay, in the same way that you need to find a store that takes Apple Pay or Google Pay. This has made Line Pay impossible to use in many countries around the world, and for Visa and Line Pay’s new feature to be a success, this will have to change. It is also vying for space in a segment occupied by some serious competitors — Apple, Google, and Samsung.
It does seem like the new Visa partnership removes this obstacle for international use, and simply makes Line Pay compatible with all Visa’s contactless terminals without Line Pay being a requirement. We put the question to Line, for clarification, and were told, “Payment can be processed as long as the merchant accepts digital Visa cards, and does not have to directly accept Line Pay. On top of that, as long as the Visa card is bound to Line Pay, all Visa transaction history can be seen on Line Pay.”
Visa currently works with Line on a co-branded Visa card available in Taiwan, and the new digital Visa card program is only one part of the larger partnership announced now. Loyalty programs, benefits for travelers, and special offers will be added into Line Pay by Visa. The two companies will also cooperate on developing services around cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain and, perhaps most excitingly of all, Line Pay and Visa will run promotions during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games related to cashless payments and transactions.
Currently, there is no final launch date for Line Pay and Visa’s new venture, but more details may arrive at Line’s Business Strategy conference, which takes place at the end of June.
Updated on June 10: Added official comment from Line on international use.
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