Line announced the new service this week in a blog post.
Line Taxi will debut in Tokyo, and the company says it has plans to expand nationally and eventually globally.
The service will compete against Uber, which launched in Tokyo in 2013 and expanded its service this past March.
Aside from Uber, there’s no on-demand car services in the country, so it makes sense for Line to try its hand at a taxi-esque service in Japan.
Line, which is four years old, has dabbled not just in messaging and in-app phone calls, but also in mobile games, a camera app, anti-virus software, and its own mobile payment platform called Line Pay.
Line is partnering with a large Japanese taxi company called Nihon Kotsu, which will provide the cabs and drivers for Line Taxi. Ride payments, however, will be processed through Line Pay. You’ll be able to access Line Taxi from inside the Line app.
Meanwhile, Uber is eyeing the Asia Pacific area for expansion. In November, Uber announced it had raised $US1.2 billion at a $US41 billion valuation, claiming it would use that money to create more than one million jobs in 2015 and to “make significant investments, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.” Chinese search engine Baidu also invested a reported $US600 million in Uber in December.
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