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Rakuten unites flea market apps to counter top rival

Japanese e-tailer challenging Mercari by merging 2nd- and 3rd-ranked apps

Users of Rakuten's Rakuma flea market app, right, are being urged to move to Fril, the rival app acquired in 2016.

TOKYO -- Japan's largest online retailer Rakuten is combining two flea-market services under its umbrella into a single app in pursuit of a larger share of a market dominated by compatriot Mercari.

Rakuten launched the Rakuma consumer-to-consumer marketplace app in 2014, which was followed by the 2016 acquisition of Fablic, the Tokyo startup behind rival app Fril. Under the new structure, Fril will compete as a single entity by absorbing Rakuma's user base and data, and eventually operate under the Rakuma name.

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