Chat app Line runs into trouble in Thailand and Japan, two of its key markets

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 5:16 PM

Firstly, in its residence country, Line is below investigation from authorities for the way that it handles virtual currencies with its games. Reuters reported that Japanese regulators “raided” the offices of Naver, Line’s parent company, to see into whether it flouted rules for handling customer money Game tokens are hugely favorite in Japan, which is the world’s most profitable mobile gaming market, and regulations require companies to park half of its customers’ unused deposits with the Valid Affairs Bureau if they exceed $90.000 in total.

Chat app Line runs into trouble in Thailand and Japan, two of its key markets

Japan-based messaging app kicked off its move into chat bots today, beating Facebook to the punch in the process, but it's been a challenging week for the company, which rumored to be pursuing an IPO, in two of its most important markets.

Firstly, in its residence country, Line is below investigation from authorities for the way that it handles virtual currencies with its games. Reuters reported that Japanese regulators “raided” the offices of Naver, Line’s parent company, to see into whether it flouted rules for handling customer money

Game tokens are hugely favorite in Japan, which is the world’s most profitable mobile gaming market, and regulations require companies to park half of its customers’ unused deposits with the Valid Affairs Bureau if they exceed $90.000 in total. Investigators are looking into Line game ‘Key to the Treasure Box,’ with Line telling Reuters it didn’t deposit the unspent credits because they're not currency — they're Line points.

Over in Thailand, meanwhile, Line is below investigation for allowing stickers that mock the country’s royal family to be available. Thailand’s lese majeste law forbids insults of the monarchy, and is punishable with up to fifteen years in prison. Thailand’s junta government, which assumed control of the country via a military coup in two thousand-fourteenth, has used the law in recent times to prosecute a man who defamed the king’s dog and people who have made comments on Facebook, among other cases.

The stickers were made available to Thai users via its community, which allows anyone to create and sell stickers to Line’s two hundred fifteen million active users. Line typically vets the content before it goes on sale, so it’s unclear why that didn’t happen in this case given the valid ramifications of this specific sticker set.

The deputy chief of Thailand’s Technology Crime Suppression Div told Reuters the police is “investigating where the stickers came from and who did this.” Line issued an apology in the following statement received by TechCrunch.

Line Corporation is alert of the culturally sensitive sticker set that may have caused discomfort among our users in Thailand. The sticker set in question has been pulled from the Line Sticker Shop.

As we get our users concerns seriously and consider cultural aspects of each country, we'll continue to make better our LINE Creators Market.

We regret any inconvenience this may have caused and appreciate your understanding.

Thailand is an necessary market for Line. The messaging app is thought to have more than thirty million users in the country, making it a similar size to Facebook. Thailand, together with Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia, represents one-third of the company’s active userbase.

Line has used to Thailand is test a no of new services in recent times, but it's also running into controversy in the country. Thai police previously requested access to user data, while politicians have previously claimed was granted. Line repeatedly denied providing such information. Latest year it introduced an end-to-end encryption system for messages which, it claimed, made parts of its user data inaccessible to even Line itself. (Line’s encryption isn’t as strong as WhatsApp’s recently announced security measures which fully encrypt all user data.)

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin

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