JCB, Idemia Poised to Give Mobile Payments Power Google Pay New Life in Japan

October 12, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Google Pay has been available in Japan since at least last May, and before that, Android Pay had a presence in the country since December of 2016. Now, a new effort between Idemia and JCB might help give the mobile payment platform a new life in the place where it was previously seen struggling.

Idemia offers augmented identity services, a move which would likely go a long way toward helping any mobile payment platform. JCB, meanwhile, offers QuicPay, a contactless mobile payments tool that uses a payment card tokenization system, allowing it to run with most any platform. The combined result, meanwhile, allows Google Pay to step in complete with real-time provisioning operations.

Now, Japanese users will be able to add a JCB card to any Osaifu Keitai phone that’s running at least Android 5.0, and route that card through the Google Pay app.

JCB’s Masaki Yokawa, executive vice president for brand business, noted “We believe the service will enhance the convenience and experience for JCB card members with the simple and intuitive user interface. JTP plays an integral part for making this happen, and we are proud to have worked with Idemia, who has a proven track record in this area, in order to add the Google Pay capability to the platform.”

This is an excellent step forward, but one significant problem remains. The plain and simple is that mobile payments in general haven’t really caught on in Japan. Google Pay was in Japan for almost two years as Android Pay, and no one seemed to care much then. Why would anyone suddenly want Google Pay now just because it can be connected to a JCB card? In order for a platform like this to catch on with any depth, it needs to solve a problem. We’ve seen this in places where it’s really caught on, places like India and China, where cash isn’t exactly king, and mobile payments fill a gap.

For Google Pay to catch on, especially in places where cash is still popular, it must meet a need somewhere. The last two years of Android Pay and Google Pay’s failure to catch on in Japan suggests that it’s not meeting a need after all.