Kakao Talk launches new cyber money
By Cho Mu-hyun
Kakao Talk, Korea’s largest mobile messenger service provider, said Wednesday it plans to launch its own cyber currency called Choco on Thursday.
Subscribers will be able to buy and charge Choco which can be used to buy emoticons at the firm’s app store. Ten Choco will cost 1,000 won, the company said.
“Our users have had to go through the annoying process of using credit cards every time they buy emoticons, but will now able to buy them with ease with our new cyber money Choco,” said a Kakao Talk spokeswoman.
The best-known cyber currency in the domestic market is social networking service Cyworld’s “Dotori” or “chestnuts,” which helped boost the once popular service with their cute design. The spokeswoman said that due to lack of developers, no characters or emoticon has been designed to represent Choco. She added that the firm is hopeful of finding a successful design for the currency.
The name was chosen to coincide with the service’s overall chocolate theme, as the company name Kakao came from cocoa leaves.
There is some speculation that Kakao Talk plans to widen the use of Choco to other soon-to-be-released platforms such as games and social commerce but the representative says no plan for it to be used as the currency for the whole messenger service has been discussed.
The emoticon store is one of the few businesses that bring in a steady income for the Yeoksam-based company that is struggling to find a profitable business model amid a two-year deficit.
Kakao Talk is currently working with WeMade Entertainment, also a large investor in the firm, in developing a game platform slated for release next month. It is also developing a yet to be named social commerce platform within this year. With over 50 million subscribers, Kakao Talk is the largest mobile messenger in Korea, followed by NHN’s Line which has 43 million.