Alipay Entering into South Korean Market

During the Lunar New Year, more than 100,000 Chinese visited South Korea. The way people shop in a duty free shop, or in a convenience store is quite different than before: They pay with the world’s well-known Chinese mobile payment, Alipay, the most successful case of Fintech in the world. In Seoul main streets and on Korean internet sites, we can easily find advertisements of Alipay. China UnionPay already entered into the South Korean market, and even a brand of my credit card issued in South Korea is UnionPay. They partner with BC Card, South Korea’s card issuer and they have been expanding their business in South Korea. China’s payment has entered into South Korean market in earnest and South Korean players have been getting into the game. T-money, the largest prepaid card player in South Korea and Hana Bank, the fourth largest bank in South Korea partnered with Alipay. As an example, Chinese tourists in South Korea can pay back to Alipay’s account after using T-money for foreigners if they have any remaining credits. T-money is available not only transportation including metro, bus and taxi but also for payments at convenience stores and other selected shops. Also, T-money has introduced a new service for domestic users, providing compensation system for Mobile T-money when a user loses a phone, providing a safer environment for T-money users. For Hana Bank, they haven’t started a service with Alipay but it will be launched soon. After launching a new service with Alipay, Chinese tourists will be able to pay with Alipay at merchants of Hana Bank. In other words, they can use Alipay in broader places like orthopaedics, nail salon and hair salon than what T-money service offers. The similar case has been seen in South Korea and Japan. Cashbee, South Korea’s mobile payment card partnered with Japan’s three major MNOs, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank. Japanese tourists can now pay with their smartphone in South Korea after installing a dedicated application. A wave of Fintech has come to Korea. The country is attempting a different approach with the use of Fintech. Some players already recognized their current approach is not acceptable anymore hence it is the time to shift their strategy for future growth. Payments area has been getting global and more attractive for users. For example, Alipay gives 4.5% interest when a user deposits money. Yes, it’s attractive. However, players should evaluate what is important for their future growth without tapping into the current trend. Establishing an initiative for business growth should be the overriding concern now amid mounting attention to Fintech.

Is a New Era for Japan’s Mobile Wallet Coming?

KDDI, a Japan’s mobile carrier, announced that they will launch “au Wallet”, mobile wallet which has both e-money and point reward program, in the coming May 2014. This mobile wallet is available for not only online shopping but also offline shopping at more than 30 million merchants. KDDI has pushed forward 3M strategy – multi-use, multi-network and multi-device a couple of years ago. As a part of that, they are launching new O2O (online-to-offline) payment service. “au Wallet” can be accessed from both PC and mobile devices and will used MasterCard prepaid payment system for their payment processes. Also, they have a unique function for point program. When customers use this mobile wallet, rewarding points will be saved up and customers can use reserved points for their mobile bill payments. KDDI has some 34 million customers as of February 2014 and based on the customer base, they are targeted to create US$ 12 billion O2O market by 2016. Also, they will utilize big data analysis to improve the service. p_besshi_01 Source: KDDI KDDI starts this service with a solid customer base and a significant number of acceptances. However, it might be difficult to meet the goal they are aimed at because it might take time to influence customer behaviours. In Japan, mobile payment has existed since before smartphones spread but Japan has not achieved great success in mobile payment. However, the situation surrounding mobile wallet has been changing little by little. In Japan, the number of smartphone users has been increasing steadily and smartphones spread at a certain extent and the number of e-money users has been growing firmly. Therefore, au Wallet has a enough potential to success in O2O market. To lead this service toward success, KDDI should be sensitive to customer behaviours and try to add new twists continuously to their mobile wallet service with their CRM analysis.

Is Mobile Payments Market in Japan Growing Or Not?

People think that Japan is one of the countries that is an early adopter of contactless mobile payments. We can certainly agree this is true. However, whether contactless mobile payments are common in Japan is another question. The answer is in fact “No”. In other words, mobile payment-enabled phones are widespread because many mobile phones are preloaded with the mobile payment function, but the active users are far less than the penetration of mobile payment enabled phones. As of August 2012, there are approximately 126 million mobile phone contracts in Japan. Among those, 58% or roughly 73 million mobile phones are embedded with a mobile payment chip. This is equivalent to 20% of all e-money cards / devices, which total about 180 million cards. How is the transaction volume? Monthly transaction volume of e-money, including not only mobile payments but plastic e-money, recorded 260 million in July 2012. That is, monthly transaction volume per card is only 1.5 transactions. Recently, smartphone subscriptions have been rapidly increasing and mobile payment embedded smartphones have also gradually penetrated. Approximately 34% or 10 million of smartphones have mobile payment chips, and of these 3 million subscribers use the mobile payment function. Does this seem like a high number? Smartphone users usually tend to prefer new things compared to feature phones users but merely 30% of mobile payment embedded mobile phone subscribers use mobile payments. Given the low transaction volume of all e-money cards, mobile payment registered users don’t seem to use mobile payment actively at this moment. It could be because of the lack of recognition of mobile payment or simply the lack of allure and advantage of mobile payment. That is why Celent estimates that the active users of mobile payment are 10% or less of mobile payments holders. A number of overseas media believe that mobile payments are very popular in Japan. However, it is not true. Yes, the infrastructure of mobile payments has been established well but the active users are not so many yet. To increase the number of active users, mobile payments players in Japan should not only preload mobile payment functions in mobile phones but also develop a strategy for promoting mobile payment effectively.