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The world’s keenest online hagglers help Japan’s Line rule in Thailand

  • Line is Thailand’s dominant messaging platform, with 44 million users, and has added services such as e-payment, transport and food delivery to expand
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 3:33pm

Thais like to bargain hard online for clothes, food and even iPhones, a trend that Japan’s Line Corp is tapping to remain the dominant mobile messaging service in the country.

No other nation uses social media for e-commerce as much as Thailand, with buyers and sellers haggling over price via chats just as they do in ubiquitous street markets, said Ariya Banomyong, Line’s managing director in the country.

“Everything that happens online stems from behaviour offline,” Ariya, 45, said in an interview on Monday. “It’s an unstructured way to buy and sell items, and we like unstructured.”

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Social media applications like Line, Facebook and Instagram accounted for 51 per cent of Thailand’s US$3.1 billion e-commerce market last year, according to research from PwC. Line is the country’s dominant messaging platform, with 44 million users, and has added services such as e-payment, transport and food delivery to expand.

“The e-payment market in Thailand still has no dominant players,” said Ariya. “In the next two to three years, there should be accelerated growth in e-payment adoption.”

Line’s chat stickers are hugely popular in the Southeast Asian nation, among the reasons it has captured up to 90 per cent of internet users in its biggest market outside Japan.

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Thais spend almost five hours a day using mobile internet – the highest figure in the world – and are glued to social media, research by We Are Social and Hootsuite shows.

Bangkok, for instance, has the world’s largest active urban Facebook user base, at 22 million.