Photo/IllutrationA smartphone screen of Line Securities Corp. Clients can complete a trade in six taps. (Naoko Murai)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Users of the ubiquitous Line app--about 81 million in Japan at last count--can now trade stocks using the free smartphone program.

Line Securities Corp., jointly set up by Line Financial Corp. and Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan's largest securities firm, was launched on Aug. 20.

With the move, Line is seeking to make financial businesses one of its pillars, while Nomura is seeking to attract those in their 20 to 40s, Line's main users, into the world of investing.

"We want to bring assets operations closer to the working population, who tend to be apprehensive about making investments," Tetsuhiko Saito, president of Line Financial, said at a news conference in Tokyo that day.

Using the Line Securities service, clients can trade stock in amounts as small as one share, costing several hundred yen (several dollars).

In conventional trading, investors typically trade stock in units of 100 shares, which can cost several hundreds of thousands of yen to several millions of yen, making it difficult for beginners to invest.

Users of the new service need only to tap the screen several times to complete a trade. They can also trade until 9 p.m. on weekdays and can use Line Pay to make payments via smartphone.

Currently, stocks of 100 famous companies and nine types of domestic exchange traded funds (ETF), mutual funds traded on stock exchanges, can be traded using the service.

Line set up Line Financial in January 2018 and has launched financial businesses one after another since autumn of that year, including insurance and a household account bookkeeping service.

It will also open Line Bank, a joint venture with Mizuho Bank, in 2020.

Saito describes Line's financial services as "palm finance."

"Making financial services available on the Line platform accessed by users on a daily basis is significant. There is a lot of room to make financial services more convenient," he said.

Nomura Securities Co., a subsidiary of Nomura Holdings, has proceeded with measures to deal with digitalization. However, such measures have not spread among its clients sufficiently.

Hajime Ikeda, senior managing director of Nomura Holdings, showed confidence in the tie-up with Line, which is used by a majority of smartphone users in this country.

"We'll be able to create a movement whereby 1,800 trillion yen (in financial assets held by people in Japan) will flow from savings to asset formation," he said.

There is currently no mechanism to draw Line Securities clients to Nomura's services, such as face-to-face selling or consultations on asset operations.

However, it is an urgent challenge for the entire securities industry to lead individuals' financial assets from savings to investments, as trading in domestic stock markets has recently become sluggish.

"The number of people who will conduct face-to-face trading at Nomura will increase," Ikeda said.

(This article was written by Takufumi Yoshida and Naoko Murai.)