Japanese Mobile Payments Market Starting to Heat Up

May 10, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

As far as mobile payments went, Japan was an unexpected laggard in the field. Smartphones haven’t exactly made much of a splash there, though that seems to be changing, and mobile payments weren’t big either as Japanese people seemed to prefer cash in a big way; only around 20 percent of payments are made on a cashless basis in Japan. However, new reports have emerged saying that too may be changing, and mobile payments competition is beginning to heat up.

One of the biggest new releases set to arrive on the Japanese mobile payment front comes from Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), who plans to bring out an all-in-one payment terminal that allows retailers to take many more payment forms. The biggest targets are, not surprisingly, Apple Pay and Alipay, in a bid to pursue other major markets. SMFG is working with GMO Payment Gateway to get that job done, and the company expects to bring out its terminal sometime next year.

SMFG is hopeful that retailers will increasingly turn to the mobile devices to take advantage of other SMFG services, particularly Sumitomo Mitsui Card. Such a move would also provide more raw customer data to work with, which means better and more detailed analyses that are ultimately more valuable to retailers and the like.

Such a release would actually be helpful in Japan, where businesses currently need separate payment gateways and devices to process each individual type of service. Imagine that for a moment; one terminal for Samsung Pay, one for Apple Pay, one for PayPal…eventually you’d have a counter full of payment devices, some of which may only occasionally be used. Then businesses are left with the unpleasant choice of either leaving a stuffed counter or alienating customers who don’t use the most popular payments systems. SMFG’s system would be helpful on that front.

With mobile services like Alipay turning to quick response (QR) codes, though, SMFG will need to step up its releasing in order to land market share for itself. Already reports suggest that Japanese retailers are accepting Chinese cashless payment services, which may leave SMFG out in the cold in its own native market.