TOKYO: JCB is poised to become the first major Japanese credit card company to offer mobile payments and remittances, entering the field as soon as 2023 in a bid to capture younger users, Nikkei has learned.
The company boasts an international payment network, with 146 million cardholders and 39 million partner vendors. It will face competition from the likes of PayPay and Line, which have a head start in the mobile field.
Users will install a JCB app on their phones that lets them transfer money from their bank accounts or credit cards. The service will be open to people without JCB cards as well.
At checkout, users will select from various options for mobile payment, such as scanning a QR code. No credit screening is needed, because the money is prepaid into users’ accounts. The service also will feature person-to-person money transfers and ATM withdrawals.
JCB, one of the oldest credit card brands in Japan, seeks to diversify its revenue sources. Besides serving consumers, the company will offer the mobile payment platform to stores, local banks and others as a service.
Looking further ahead, the credit card company eventually wants to let consumers access their work income through the app as an alternative to using their bank accounts. A regulatory barrier prevents this now, but the government is expected to consider removing this restriction.
Mobile payments in Japan have been led by the tech sector, but finance companies are catching up.
Japan’s PayPay, the nationwide leader in mobile payment services, had more than 50 million registered users in August.
Kotora, a service led by several Japanese banks intended to allow mobile transfers of small sums, is due to launch this fall. Among JCB’s credit card rivals, the Shinsei Bank group’s APLUS offers a smartphone app that allows money transfers.
Cash has long been king in Japan for shopping and dining out, but mobile payments have gained ground, thanks partly to less handling of paper money during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The share of cashless transactions reached a record 32.5% in 2021, up 2.8 percentage points from 2020, the ministry of economy, trade and industry reports. Credit cards accounted for 27.7% of the total. QR codes saw a significant increase in use, up 0.7 points to 1.8%.