Skepticism is growing given Korea’s heavy dependence on cocoa
|Naver’s Line mobile messenger app logos, left, and Kakao’s KakaoTalk logos / Courtesy of their respective companies|
Naver and Tmap Mobility benefit from disruptions in competitors’ services
By Park Jae-hyuk
The longest-ever malfunction of Korea’s most popular mobile messenger app, KakaoTalk, and its related services has prompted users to reconsider their heavy reliance on the tech company.
After a fire damaged Kakao’s main data center at SK C&C’s building in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province on Saturday, Korean users have started looking for alternatives to Kakao’s services as the disruption not only causes inconvenience to consumers, but also to consumers has inflicted financial losses on various companies.
Among the main victims of the fiasco were taxi drivers linked to Kakao, as they are only allowed to be called through Kakao Mobility’s KakaoT. They are said to have suffered huge losses because the disruption occurred during rush hours.
Chauffeurs and couriers have also experienced temporary setbacks in their jobs due to the malfunctioning of Kakao Mobility’s services. Those who rented the Kakao Mobility electric scooters and bikes before the suspension were reportedly charged significant amounts of money because they were unable to return the vehicles.
Some e-commerce platforms have been unable to sell their products to customers who log into online malls with their KakaoTalk accounts.
“Due to the fire at Kakao’s data center, it’s difficult to log in, register new addresses, make payments through Kakao Pay, and get customer services through KakaoTalk,” Kurly, the operator of fresh food delivery platform Market Kurly, said Customers. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Starbucks and several other restaurants have had to deal with complaints from some customers who were unable to make payments using their “Gifticons,” mobile coupons sent through KakaoTalk.
Upbit users have been banned from cryptocurrency trading for several hours because they need KakaoTalk accounts to log into the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.
|Apps Tmap Mobility and Naver, considered alternatives to Kakao Map and KakaoTalk, ranked among Korea’s top three apps on Google Play on Sunday. Screenshot from Google Play|
Amid the nationwide chaos, Naver increased advertising for its mobile messenger app Line on its website. Tmap Mobility also promoted its taxi hail and chauffeur services through social media. Data from Google Play and the Apple App Store confirmed that the alternative services attracted consumers during the cocoa service outage.
Some users of the Kakao service suggested consumers should sue the company, although the tech company is less likely to compensate those who only use KakaoTalk, a free app. There is speculation that Kakao SK could ask C&C to compensate its users on its own behalf.
On Sunday, Kakao Entertainment announced that it would extend the subscription expiration dates of all customers of its music streaming service Melon by three days and distribute 1,500 won ($1) to users whose subscriptions expired on Saturday. Kakao Mobility announced plans to present compensation plans in the near future.