Kakao celebrates 10th birthday with suite of new services
Kakao is marking its 10th anniversary with a number of new products including a digitized identification service, new subscription plans and a platform for independent artists.
“Kakao has contemplated how we could make a better world and create more meaningful relationships among our users through our technology and platform, as our daily life changes due to the unprecedented pandemic,” said Kakao CEO Cho Soo-yong during an online press conference Wednesday.
One of the new products is Kakao Wallet, a mobile wallet that can be used to store images of digital forms of identification, such as a driver’s license, company ID card and government certificates.
Currently, mobile driver’s licenses can be stored through the KakaoTalk messenger app. Yonsei University will partner with KakaoTalk to add its student ID cards to the app.
In response to security concerns, Kakao CEO Yeo Min-soo said a security breach is “fundamentally impossible” as the certificates are connected to an individual’s smartphone and “protected using blockchain technology.”
The IT company also rolled out plans to provide more customized content for users. It will offer a customized content page based on user choices by the first half of next year.
The platform will be serviced on both the PC and mobile versions of the messenger app.
The company has yet to come up with a profit model but said it is considering allowing fans to make donations to individual content creators.
Kakao is also developing a platform similar to Soundcloud where musicians can freely share unreleased tracks.
Called TrackZero, it is a free music sharing platform connected to the Melon music service. Kakao acquired Melon, Korea’s biggest music streaming service with more than 4.1 million monthly active users, in 2016.
Anyone can listen to music uploaded on TrackZero. Profit generated from streaming will be distributed according to copyright rules from the Korea Music Copyright Association. Kakao says it hopes to help more unrecognized artists connect with audiences, as well as function as a platform for experimental music.
Kakao is also planning to start offering subscription services and rental services through its messenger app.
It has partnered with companies that already offer rental services and subscriptions for products such as massage chairs from Bodyfriend, mattresses from furniture company Hanssem and kimchi fridges from Winia. Cosmetics, food and even cleaning services are also on the list of potential products that could be offered for a subscription later, the company said.
When asked how Kakao’s subscription service will be different from the same service from other e-commerce sites, CEO Yeo said it will be “much simpler” without “multiple paperwork and complicated identification process” on other platforms.
Share prices of Kakao inched up by 0.97 percent to 365,500 won ($330), Wednesday, amid positive anticipations from investors.
BY KANG JAE-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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