TOKYO - Messaging app provider Line Corp. said Wednesday it will launch a bicycle-sharing service in Japan next year through business and capital tie-ups with a Chinese firm.
Expecting growing demand for bike sharing, which has already gained a foothold in the United States, Europe and China, Line plans to obtain a stake of up to 20 percent in a Japanese unit of Beijing Mobike Technology Co. in January.
Line will determine where it will provide the service after talking with municipalities showing interest. It aims to operate around the venues of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to meet demand from foreign visitors.
Mobike Japan, which launched a bike-sharing service in Sapporo, Hokkaido, in August, will provide bicycle and maintenance services to Line while the app provider will enable users to find where unoccupied bicycle are parked, unlock them and pay for the ride by smartphone. Customers can hire and return bikes at any designated parking space.
"This is the new business that will change Line users' transportation methods," Line President Takeshi Idezawa said at a press conference.
In Japan, NTT Docomo Inc., the nation's top mobile phone operator, has entered the business among others.