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Messaging app Line soars in stock market debut

Posted by pakin On July - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

NEW YORK – Shares in the Asian hit messaging app Line, Thailand’s favourite smartphone app, surged 40% in opening trade in New York Thursday in a market hungry for the newest technology IPO.

The largest new tech stock on the market so far this year drew strong support as Wall Street overall pushed to new record levels.

Over the day, the stock climbed $8.74 and closed at $41.58 (1,457 baht) 27% above the targeted IPO price.

But Line remains challenged to boost its popularity beyond East and Southeast Asia, and some Spanish language markets, amid a field crowded with innovative mobile messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp, Skype and Snapchat.

Founder and chief executive Jungho Chin told the US business CNBC-TV network Thursday that the company now dominates the Japanese market and that the IPO will boost its expansion.

“Ultimately we believe that this IPO will accelerate our growth,” he said.

Mr Chin told CNBC that the company’s aim right now is to expand Line’s functionality rather than focus on building it in other countries.

“Every smartphone user needs a messaging service, music service, and a gaming service, and they want a one-stop service. If the users can serve their needs with this one-stop service we can satisfy customers,” Mr Chin said.

“The short-term view will be to focus on expanding the domain, and not so much the geographical expansion.”

In early trade the shares rocketed to $43.70 (1,530 baht, or 4,620 yen), on the New York Stock Exchange, compared with the initial public offering price of $31.20 (1,093 baht, 3,300 yen) early Thursday New York time (Friday, Thailand time).

Priced at the high end of its original estimates amid heavy demand, Japan-based Line raised about $1.3 billion in the share flotation.

The shares will trade on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and on the New York Stock Exchange as ADR depositary receipts under the ticker sign “LN”. Trading in Tokyo will begin Friday.

Known for its cute and innovative digital stickers, Line is hugely popular across much of East and Southeast Asia and is widely used in Spain and Mexico as well.

It counts about 218 million active monthly users, and is strongest in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Owned by South Korean Internet provider Naver, the app combines attributes from Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp.

It lets users make free calls, send instant messages, and post photos or short videos, along with a host of other paid services. Games and a mobile payments function are also on offer.

It is best known for letting users send each other cute cartoon “stickers”, and is hugely popular among teenagers.

Line’s sells thousands of the stickers, many of them animated and noisy, from Hello Kitty and Super Mario to Manga and Disney characters.

One service allows users to create and sell their own characters, while Line’s homegrown stable of stickers include the duck Sally, a sad-face bear called Brown and Cony the rabbit.

“The stickers are so good at explaining how we feel,” Nanako, a 25-year-old tech industry worker from San Francisco, said at the retail store in Tokyo’s youth fashion district.

Last year, Line posted revenue of 120 billion yen (39.88 billion baht, $1.1 billion), up 40% from the year before, but a small overall loss, which it blamed on rising staff costs and other expenses.

Line said it would use proceeds of the stock offering to help it expand in Asia, and tap the US and European markets where it is not yet a major player.

It also said the funds could fuel takeovers of other services and apps.

Line, Facebook look to benefit as online shopping via mobile devices takes off

Three new e-payment services from Line and Facebook will become available to Thai mobile users by the end of this year, as the social-media companies gear up with a view to tapping into high growth potential in the domestic market.

Jin-Woo Lee, chief executive officer of Rabbit Line Pay, told the “Thailand E-commerce Summit 2016” that the company would provide two new services in the near future under the Rabbit Line Pay brand, enabling mobile payments via a smart phone using any operating system.

Mobile users will simply need to download the Rabbit Line Pay application to their device in order to use the system, he said, adding that the new payment services would be piloted at retail outlets such as McDonald’s in August.

“I believe Thailand is the first country in which we will provide the new e-payment service. In the next couple of months, we will test it with retail shops, and then with the Skytrain in December, before making it

officially available in the market,” the CEO said. Another new offering under Rabbit Line Pay services is a logistics service available to mobile users who already have the Rabbit Line Pay app.

Under the logistics service, the company has joined hands with Kerry to deliver products to customers when they order from the Line shop. Kerry will provide a same-day delivery service for users located in Bangkok, with cash on delivery being a payment option. The new service will initially be available in Bangkok.

“For Line, Thailand is the second biggest market, after Japan. I believe there is high market potential in Thailand for the provision of services that support mobile users in a simple and convenient way,” Lee said.

The company is currently working with four commercial banks – Siam Commercial Bank, TMB Bank, Bangkok Bank and Kasikornbank – to support e-payment transactions under its new offerings, he added.

Line now has around 40 million users in Thailand, the chief executive said.

Onsite social commerce

Rathiya Issarachaikul, manager SMB (small and medium-sized businesses) at Facebook Thailand, saidFacebook would be offering a new e-payment service under what it termed “onsite social commerce”, which would allow users to buy and pay for products via their Facebook home page.

The service will provide easy access to chat and respond quickly, with the emphasis on “human-touch services to support the customer journey”, with everything able to be done on the Facebook platform with no shopping card and the initiation of a transaction basically being done by chat, she said.

Users can experience the concept at m.me/myshop, she added.

“Social commerce has come to our region, Southeast Asia, [for which it is] an emerging market. Facebookhas 40 million Thai monthly users, and 1.55 billion global monthly users,” Rathiya said.

Facebook is rumoured to be testing the onsite social-commerce market in Thailand, and will provide its new e-payment services via a 2C2P application.

Meanwhile, PwC conducted its annual “Total Retail” survey in April, in which it questioned 23,000 shoppers in 25 countries around the world and found Thailand to be the leader in terms of the ratio – 51 per cent – for those having bought products by interacting with merchants on social media.

India had the next highest ratio at 32 per cent, followed by Malaysia (31 per cent) and China (27 per cent), the survey found. An analyst told the summit that the giant social-media firms would now increasingly tap into the potential offered by Thai mobile usage, in light of behavioural change towards shopping via social media and mobile devices.

Tealium focuses on enabling business to drive better real-time interactions with customers

WITH THE omnichannel trend growing rapidly in the digital marketing industry, much of the focus has switched to the open Web experience while exploring expansion into mobile apps and a better shopping experience.

Omnichannel aims to provide the customer with a seamless process, whether shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by phone or in a store.

However, since mobile traffic has surpassed its desktop counterpart in Thailand over the last two years, optimising for mobile has become one of the market’s key concerns.

Andy Clark, general manager, Asia Pacific Japan, of tag management provider Tealium, said that as there is a stronger omnichannel play, companies are more keen to drive optimisation across both customer acquisition and cross/up sell.

A tag management system (TMS) makes its easy to manage the implementation of digital marketing technology solutions. Tag management also serves as a foundation for driving better omnichannel experiences.

Tealium’s core focus across the globe this year is on enabling business, across industries, to drive better realtime interactions with their customers.

“As our customers and partners mature in their digital journey, we want to enable them to leapfrog the challenges of managing disjointed platforms and focus on the important things – driving customer engagement, revenue and process optimisation.

“We will continue to invest in strengthening our business in Austalia and New Zealand, Japan, and increasingly, in Southeast Asia – including Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand,” said Clark.

Tealium believes that it is not one technology, but the multiple technologies and vendors that organisations are using that are causing the disruption – not just distracting marketers from their core brand responsibilities, but also fragmenting the customer view.

With a customer data platform like Tealium’s, marketers have the ability to unify those fragmented data sources and push towards the centre to drive totality of a visitor or customer. From there, it becomes much easier to create a better, more compelling experience across all channels.

Today’s consumers are expecting brands to understand them and engage them with them based on who they are, wherever they are – and it’s the brands that are leveraging data to create personalixed, onetoone communications that will win over those consumers.

The key service from Tealium is Customer Data Platform (CDP), which combines three core products: the leading enterprise tag management solution, Tealium iQ; an omnichannel customer segmentation and action engine, Tealium AudienceStream; and a suite of rich data services, Tealium DataAccess.

Tealium’s CDP enables organisations to unlock customer data trapped in siloed marketing systems, build a unified customer view, and take realtime action.

Tealium sees the new era of realtime customer engagement as being both agile in responding to customer needs, and driving deeper customer relationships based on a more comprehensive understanding of that customer. This includes being fully aware of bounce rates, having patience in specific environments, and having the capabilities in place to adapt quickly.

In recent years, tag management systems have rapidly evolved to become a key foundation for data management and enrichment. Leveraging tag management, marketers can build a single source of truth for creating comprehensive, unified customer profiles – which can then be used to drive more timely and relevant omnichannel experiences.

Tag management benefits digital marketers in a number of ways, including accelerating campaign timetomarket, meaning marketers can launch more revenuegenerating campaigns faster and easier; and leveraging bestinclass solutions with the ability to quickly and easily test new vendors and use the applications that best fit evolving business requirements.

It is also improving website performance through intelligent tag loading and superior architecture; reducing costs by freeing up valuable marketing and IT resources for other strategic projects; and standardising data, ensuring all vendors are using the same data definitions to ensure consistent, accurate customer engagement.

True baulks at 4G licence fee

Posted by pakin On February - 3 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

True Crop has halted the first instalment payment for its 900-megahertz spectrum licence until authorities clarify conditions for a possible new auction round.

The abrupt decision came just a day after a teleconference on Monday between top executives and shareholders of the company along with up to 50 global investment banks and analysts.

The meeting ended with a resolution to hold off paying the bidding fee for the 900MHz licence that True won last December and wait instead for a concrete explanation from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) about the possible reauction.

“We’ll submit a formal letter to the NBTC this week seeking a resolution to any reauction’s conditions before we make payment,” chief financial officer Noppadol Dej-Udom said.

“The move is just to ensure we don’t find ourselves in the unfair position of having to pay an exorbitant licence fee alone while other bidders enjoy much lower bid prices in a new auction round.

“As a matter of best practice, a fair consideration of the framework for a 900MHz reauction should be given to us.”

He said the NBTC should implement a new international standard for future auctions in order to prevent similar incidents.

Indeed, True hopes Jasmine International Plc can pay its own bidding fee in order to prevent any turbulence in the industry, Mr Noppadol said.

An NBTC source earlier admitted the regulator was quietly drawing up plans to call a new auction round for the 900MHz spectrum if bid winner and Jasmine subsidiary JAS Mobile Broadband failed to secure the massive funding it needed by March 21.

Rumours have circulated in the industry that Bangkok Bank rejected Jasmine’s initial borrowing plan.

The rumours came after banks started asking for new plans before licence winners could receive cash due to bids in the 900MHz fourth-generation (4G) auction running two or three times higher than expected.

Another rumour spreading online is Jasmine’s executives have ordered staff to remove the company’s 4G advertising billboards.

Jasmine chief executive Pete Bodharamik could not be reached for comment.

Industry veterans have pointed out that global standards for reauctions stipulate a previous winner — True in this case — must carry the same bidding price gap from the previous auction with the new co-winner.

One veteran said in the case of True and Jasmine, the latter’s JAS subsidiary won the first licence for 75.7 billion baht or 487% higher than the auction reserve price of 12.9 billion.

True Move H Universal Communication (TUC), a subsidiary of True Move, won the second licence for 76.3 billion baht or 491% above the reserve price.

True’s licence cost is about 600 million baht higher than JAS’s, so the winning price of the new 900MHz auction must have the same 600-million-baht gap with True, the source said.

“Let’s say the bidding fee of the new auction round ends at 50 billion baht. The NBTC should then reduce the fee payment for True to 56 billion baht,” the source said. “And Jasmine must shoulder the extra costs incurred by the NBTC for a new auction.”

The source also urged the regulator to impose a hefty fine on Jasmine to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

The source believes both Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS) and Total Access Communication Plc (DTAC) are interested in a new 900MHz auction if the reserve price is not set at the previous huge winning prices.

Mr Noppadol also said four or five commercial banks had already approved a syndicated loan worth 73 billion baht to True for bank guarantee payments.

Both JAS and TUC were given 90 days after the auction, until March 21, to make the first payment of 8.04 billion baht, half the estimated spectrum value. An additional 25% is to be paid by year-end and the final 25% next year, then any remaining bid amounts in 2018.

When the winners pay their first instalment, they must also post three bank guarantees for the remaining amounts. The delay will postpone the commercial launch of 4G wireless broadband in provincial areas.

“We are ready to make our bidding fee payment but will wait for a clear resolution before making any move,” Mr Noppadol added.

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