On Sept. 5, world-leading mobile and online payment platform Alipay announced the intention to collaborate with a wider range of local Japanese partners to build a cashless environment for tourists going to Japan.
“This will allow the large number of visitors coming from China to enjoy easy payment methods that they are familiar with and provide business opportunities for local merchants in Japan.” said Eric Jing, Executive Chairman and CEO of Ant Financial.
The company is also taking the opportunity to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games by bridging the gap between visitors and local merchants in Japan on the front of mobile payment. The estimated spike in number of foreign visitors during the games will serve as a good opportunity for the company to expand its business and meet its targets of global expansion.
Japan has long been a popular tourist destination for foreigners alike, especially Chinese tourists. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan continues to increase year-on-year (y-o-y). According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, close to 7.35 million people visited Japan in 2017 with a y-o-y growth rate of 15.4 percent, and the inbound consumption from this group reached 1.6 trillion yen (US$14.3 billion), according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan.
Adding on to the growing number of Chinese tourists, total spending performed through mobile payment is also rising rapidly as well. Throughout the months of July and August, the average consumption of Chinese Alipay users in Japan reached nearly RMB3,900 ($970.2), an increase of 52 percent compared with the previous year. The total transaction volume also grew by 165 percent.
The company is meeting the growing needs of adventurous Chinese tourists by establishing specific collaborations with Japanese regional banks such as Hida Credit Union and Kyoto Shinkin Bank. The company is also cooperating with local mobile payment platforms in Japan such as Line Pay and Paypay in hopes of expanding its merchant network.
Alipay, which currently has over 700 million active users in China, was introduced to Japan to provide services to Chinese visitors at local merchants in December 2015 and is currently available in all 47 prefectures across the country. It is available in a wide range of outlets to support tourism including airports, department stores, restaurants and popular attractions.