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Kakao launches new collective mobility app Kakao T

Korean mobile messaging giant launches parking space search and reservation service, with hopes for successful monetization

Kakao has merged its key transportation services including taxi hailing, chauffeur service and navigation into a single mobile app called Kakao T, while also adding a new parking lot search service to the app.

Now available on mobile app stores, Kakao T brings together the various widely-used mobility apps run by Kakao, the operator of South Korea’s dominant mobile messenger KakaoTalk.

The new app was launched by Kakao Mobility, a Kakao subsidiary formed in August to oversee the expansion and monetization of Kakao’s transportation services.

Kakao Mobility is hoping to establish a concrete business model for its mobility services, most of which have managed to amass a large user base but have not found ways to generate stable profits.

Kakao’s mobile parking service -- introduced for the first time via Kakao T -- allows users to search for empty parking spaces nationwide as well as make reservations and payments.

To use the app, users should enter the region or neighborhood where they are looking to park. For instance, by searching for “Gangnam Station,” users will receive up to five recommended parking spots near the subway station.

Users can compare the recommended parking lot’s location, price and parking type. After making a selection, they can make a reservation and receive driving directions via Kakao’s mobile navigation service.

Payments are automatically processed via Kakao’s mobile pay solution in accordance with the parking lot usage time. The time is monitored by the parking lot and sent to Kakao’s app.

Kakao T has currently partnered with parking lot operators that run some 1,000 lots within city centers, shopping malls and public spaces in the Seoul metropolitan region. The firm plans to expand the parking lots it hosts on its platform to include more diverse regions.

For now, Kakao is expected to garner profits from platform usage fees collected from its partner parking lot operators as well as credit card companies linked to its mobile pay platform Kakao Pay.

“We hope to make Kakao T a smart mobility platform that connects users to innovative mobility services to come,” said Kakao Mobility CEO Jung Joo-hwan. “Our parking service will offer convenience to drivers and a new marketing tool to parking lot operators.” 

By Sohn Ji-young (