Mobile Payments On Smartphones Soar In Japan

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Making mobile payments with a smartphone in Japan is more popular than ever, according to eMarketer, a New York-based market research company.

NFCW.com reports the number of shoppers in Japan making these cell phone purchases at the point of sale is expected to reach 24 million by year’s end, up from 19 million in 2019, a 26 percent increase, encompassing more than 21 percent of the population, researchers found.

It also predicts that by 2023 the number of mobile payment users will rise to nearly 28 million, 25 percent of the population.

The reasons behind the growth, the survey said, is the use of QR code payment systems, the contactless platform where payment is performed by scanning a the code from a mobile app, and the government’s cashless rebate program, which rewards users making these payments with up to 5 percent cash back on their transactions.

“Japan is betting big on QR codes as consumer payment preferences begin to change,” eMarketer analyst Cindy Liu told the website. “QR codes don’t require huge investments from vendors and are also simple and easy to use for consumers.”

Liu noted COVID-19 has fueled the push towards cashless payments as consumers avoid the use of cash and plastic cards.

“And with the Olympics pushed back to 2021, we can expect the Japanese government to continue to invest in mobile payment technology as part of its measures to keep the games safe,” Liu added.

Last month, PYMNTS reported Japan’s history of mobile payments progress dates back to 2004 when the DotCoMo mobile wallet was introduced, one of the world’s first mobile commerce innovations.

Still, Japan remains a heavily cash-based economy, Darren Abrahamson, managing director of Bain Capital Tech Opportunities, told PYMNTS.

“It’s just a very different cultural market,” Abrahamson said in talking about Bain’s participation recently in a Series E funding round for hey, a Japanese eCommerce and digital payments platform.

He said Japanese consumers have a preference for managing transactions in cash. But Bain sees that coming to an inflection point where things could change.

Abrahamson said the government is also giving merchants incentives to buy contactless terminals. He said some of those efforts stemmed from the now-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, “where they just wanted to have the ability to accept all forms of payments from all the tourists that were expected. And even though that has been shifted out a year, much of the push has been to catch up, frankly, with the rest of the developed world and certainly the other Asian economies in particular.”

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