The popular Japanese free messaging app – LINE is targeting new sources of revenue. According to a story at The Next Web, the Japan-based company which has more than 150 million users worldwide is planning to make money with the introduction of an app promotion initiative.

LINE Social messaging app

Updating the latest feature on its blog LINE has named the program as ‘Line Free Coins’. The new initiative will allow users to use the virtual currency to download selected apps. To avail this feature one needs to simply install and launch the apps listed on the LINE Free Coins page, and receive free LINE Coins that can be used to purchase paid-for stickers on LINE.

Right now the program is available only with the three LINE-integrated apps, namely LINE Bubble, LINE Dragon Flight and LINE I Love Coffee. However, LINE has indicated that more third-party apps selected and reviewed by the LINE team will be available in future for the ‘Line Free Coins’ program.

The move from the messaging app is definitely exciting as before the new program Line Coins could only be acquired through hard cash, either via a credit card or in-app payment. Besides this adding more third-party apps for the program gives a new source of revenue to LINE and for businesses that utilize the smartphone as a promotional tool, the Free Coins service offers a chance for their apps to be promoted within the LINE platform.

However, right now the service is only available on the Android version of LINE; there are no plans as yet on whether the service will be extended to the iPhone too.

The latest move comes after LINE confirmed of doubling its efforts in Taiwan by opening a new office and kicking off a fresh recruitment drive in the region and enabling support for European languages such as German, Italian and Portuguese.

This move will only bolster the revenue figures that it had recently shared for the Q1, 2013. Line Corporation revealed that the app has made 5.82 billion yen i.e. $58 million from the first quarter of 2013. Breaking the revenue down, Line specified that around half of its revenue has come from in-app payments and from the elaborate range of social games people play together on Line. Another 30% of its revenue that is approximately $17M is from paid stickers – a form of rich emoticons.

But the app does have some stiff competition from other Asian messaging apps such as WeChat, Kakao Talk, etc. in the already crowded market. It would be interesting to wait and watch what percentage of revenues the new source brings in for LINE in Q2, 2013.

Image courtesy: LINE