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A new forecast from eMarketer projects KakaoTalk users in South Korea will reach 31.2 million this year, and grow to 34.1 million by 2021.
In addition, 92.3% of mobile phone messaging app users will access KakaoTalk at least once a month in 2017, making it by far the most used mobile chat app in South Korea. Widespread availability of mobile broadband in South Korea is one of the factors driving adoption, and by the end of this year 84.5% of smartphone users in the country will use the platform regularly.
KakaoTalk’s already high penetration rate among mobile users in South Korea will result in slowed growth for the platform in the coming years. eMarketer predicts KakaoTalk’s user base will increase by 3.3% in 2017, but that annual growth rate will fall to just 1.5% by 2021.
eMarketer expects nearly two-thirds of the country’s population will access KakaoTalk regularly by the end of 2021.
Kakao Corp., the parent company of KakaoTalk, has introduced additional features to KakaoTalk in recent years, as well as related services. In 2012, Kakao Corp. launched KakaoStory, a mobile photo sharing feature. A January 2017 survey from digital media advertiser Nasmedia found that KakaoStory has a penetration rate of 47.1% among social network users in South Korea, behind only Facebook’s 69.2%.
Outside of social usage, Kakao Corp.’s reach is growing. In September 2014, the company introduced Kakao Pay, a digital payment service. As of October 2016, Kakao Corp. reported that more than 13 million people have registered to use the feature. In 2015, the company launched Kakao Taxi, a transportation service that now reportedly sees 1.5 million ride requests daily.
The company this month rolled out Kakao Bank, a digital banking service, and adoption is expected to be quick. Kakao Bank’s launch has the advantage of a large pool of potential customers in its KakaoTalk users.
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