InComm Brings Mobile Payments To Japanese Pharmacy Welcia

November 30, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Pharmacies are excellent places for mobile payments, because they deal in virtually nothing larger than that which can be comfortably carried out by hand. No large appliances, no cars, nothing but small items and prescription medication. So the word that InComm was poised to bring mobile payments options to the Welcia pharmacy chain in Japan proved to be both perfectly reasonable and a bit surprising, especially given that InComm is headquartered in Atlanta.

With InComm’s support, Welcia will be able to add several new options, including Japan’s own Line Pay and dPayment from NTT Docomo. Additionally, both of China’s major systems, Alipay and WeChat Pay, will be on hand, allowing customers to pay for goods by scanning barcodes on smartphones.

This is actually in keeping with a larger Japanese initiative to get more users in on mobile payments options, or rather, digital payment technology. Right now, Japan sees an average of 20 percent of its transactions carried out with non-cash means. By 2025, Japan hopes to double that number, getting the percentage up to 40.

It might be a little optimistic of Japan to get its digital payment operations that far up in the comparatively short span of time left. After all, there’s only a little over six years to 2025, and trying to double the count in a clearly cash-heavy society isn’t going to be an easy task. There are really only two ways Japan could go about this; one, it can use demonetization strategies like India did. This is a drastic measure, given Japan’s status as the third-largest economy in the world based on reports from earlier this year. The second alternative is to focus on incentives, which may be better, but would require a lot of corporate cooperation with the government. A lot more, in fact, than many companies may want to engage in.

Whether it’s a reduction of available cash to spend or an incentive-backed encouragement to use digital tools and mobile payments, the Japanese government will have its work cut out for it trying to get more users to put down their wallets and pick up their mobile devices instead. InComm’s connection with Welcia will at least provide another option, which could help inflate the use count organically rather than resorting to something more drastic.