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Business deals

Kakao to link Korea-Japan taxi-hailing apps

South Korean company will invest $14m in JapanTaxi

Tourists in South Korea and Japan will be able to use the linked ride-hailing apps from Kakao Mobility and JapanTaxi. (Photo by Yuichi Shiga)

TOKYO --  South Korea's Kakao Mobility plans to make a 1.5 billion yen ($13.5 million)  investment in JapanTaxi and link their taxi-hailing apps by the end of this year, enabling South Korean tourists to book cabs in Japan.

The mobility unit of internet company Kakao intends to take an estimated 2% to 3% stake in its Japanese partner via a private placement of new shares.

Kakao Mobility would become the first foreign company to invest in JapanTaxi. Other investors include Toyota Motor, taxi company Nihon Kotsu and mobile carrier NTT Docomo.

The Kakao T app serves 19 million users in its home market, with cumulative bookings reaching 400 million. The Japanese company's Taxi app has surpassed 5.5 million downloads, giving users access to around 70,000 vehicles nationwide.

JapanTaxi hopes the partnership will capture demand from tourists. South Korean visitors to Japan increased 40% last year to 7.14 million, the Japan National Tourism Organization says. They are the second-largest group of visitors to Japan, trailing those from China.

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