Fri, Nov 09, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Line reaffirms focus on Web bank

STRONG POINT:The messaging app’s operator said it would leverage its user base, even though legislation prevents it from transferring user accounts to a bank

By Kao Shih-ching  /  Staff reporter

Line Taiwan Ltd (台灣連線) would go to any length to obtain a Web-only banking license, Line general manager Roger Chen (陳立人) said yesterday, adding that its massive user base would be of great advantage to the development of inclusive finance, which the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) promotes.

The messaging app, launched in June 2011, had 21 million users in Taiwan as of last month, who sent 920 million messages and made more than 30 million calls through the app each day, Chen told a news conference in Taipei.

Line supports the commission’s goal of promoting inclusive financing in Taiwan through digital banking, which gives clients access to useful and affordable financial products and services, Chen said, adding that the large number of Line users means the company could reach more people.

Asked about financial regulations that would bar Line from directly transferring users to a possible digital bank, Chen said that it would “find a way to effectively use the user data,” but would not transfer users’ personal information to a new inclusive financing operation.

Chen has been acting as both chairman and general manager of the firm since former regional chief Liu I-cheng (劉奕成), who headed the preparation office for Line Financial Taiwan Corp (台灣連線金融科技), resigned on Thursday last week.

The commission earlier this year announced that it would issue two Web-only banking licenses. Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) and Japan-based Rakuten Inc have announced that they would bid for the licenses in cooperation with partners.

“Every player has their strong points. Rakuten has run virtual banks in Japan, but not in Taiwan, while the telecom also has its unique skills,” Chen said, reiterating that obtaining a license is a top priority for Line.

Line has finalized the stakeholders of its proposed digital bank and expects to submit its application to the commission by February next year, he said.

Union Bank of Taiwan (聯邦銀行) on Wednesday announced that it would take a 5 percent stake in Line’s digital bank for NT$500 million (US$16.29 million).

The Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday reported that other major shareholders include Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank (台北富邦銀行) with a 25 percent stake, as well as Standard Chartered Bank (渣打銀行), CTBC Bank (中信銀行) and Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大), Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) with a 5 percent stake each.

However, Line said it could not confirm the list and would let major shareholders make formal announcement themselves, as all of them are listed companies.

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