In Japan, the traditional payment method is gradually evolving which means you don’t have to shop around carrying cash with you anymore. Many countries have been using digital payments for years, but Japan recently entered the market and they’re offering some of the best payment applications. The most popular and best cashless payment apps in Japan are PayPay, LinePay, Mercari Pay, Rakuten Pay, dBarai, Apple Pay and Google Pay. So what are these applications and what are their advantages? Keep reading to find out!
To learn some Japanese vocabulary words related to this topic, take a look below:
Payment – 支払い (shiharai)
Cashless payment – キャッシュレス決済 (kyasshuresu kessai)
E-Money – 電子マネー (denshi manee)
App – アプリ (apuri)
Smartphone – スマートフォン (sumaatofon) or スマホ (sumaho)
Table of Contents
1. PayPay (ペイペイ) Payment App in Japan
PayPay is a mobile payment platform launched by Yahoo! Japan and its parent company, SoftBank Mobile. It works by simply opening an account, depositing some money, and making purchases via a QR code with a smartphone. For shop owners, it costs almost nothing to install; all they need to do is download the app and print their unique QR code. Early adopters are guaranteed that no fees will be charged for three years.
Almost all large retail stores and even small shops in Japan have started accepting PayPay as the only payment option aside from paying with cash and credit card. According to Japan Today, SoftBank started promoting PayPay from December 2018, rewarding users with a 20% discount on payments made through the app. In just ten days, the number of users reached 4 million.
2. LINE Pay (ラインペイ) Payment App in Japan
According to LINE, LINE Pay is a payment service that allows you to make purchases from Merchant LINE Pay. You can also send money and split bills with your LINE friends. You can make payments easily with your credit card without registering, and if you sign up for LINE Cash (Line Pay account), you can make payments with your balance, as well as make requests to split bills with someone. Some of the advantages of using LINEPay include free registration, easy access, English service for most of the process, earning LINE points and you can easily send money to friends who are on your LINE contacts list.
In addition to the services mentioned earlier, in 2016, LINE launched the LINE Pay Card for Japanese users. This card is compatible with LINE services, but can also be used in physical stores as a regular JCB debit card.
3. MerPay (メルペイ) Payment App in Japan
Merpay is a cashless payment system by Mercari which is one of the largest Japanese e-marketplaces. Merpay’s main function is to allow users to make purchases on Mercari’s site, but you can also use it at many physical shops and restaurants in Japan. If you ask any of your Japanese friends how they sell their used goods, they will most likely mention Mercari. It’s considered a better option than throwing away unwanted items in your home. This is considering the fact that Japan, especially Tokyo, has strict disposal rules and trash is becoming a major issue.
Merpay has purchased a cashless company, Origami, to combine their systems and create one excellent service for more shoppers to experience. This action will also allow customers to earn cash when they sell their items and use their profit at many different stores without feeling stuck using it only on their website. Even if you don’t sell items, you can add money to the app and have all the cashless payment options in one place. There are currently 1.7 million Merpay-accepting stores (restaurants, convenience stores, online stores) in Japan.
4. Rakuten Pay (楽天ペイ) Payment App in Japan
From Rakuten Today’s report, Rakuten Pay launched at the end of 2016 and has prevented users from wasting paper and carrying a load of cash by replacing the traditional payment method with a simple scan of a QR code. Powered by Rakuten, which is known to be one of the leaders in e-commerce in Japan, this cashless payment app can leverage the network to rapidly expand the number of payment locations. Merchants are embracing this new service, thanks to Rakuten Pay’s existing reputation and the fact that registration is free and downloading the app is easy.
Additionally, the service isn’t just for small shops. Payments made with the Rakuten Pay app can be done at more than 14,000 convenience stores across Japan through a partnership with Lawson. That number will soon jump to more than 30,000 when a new partnership with the network’s Family Mart National convenience store was launched. Many popular mini stops and convenience stores also joined before the end of 2018.
5. dBarai (d払い) Payment App in Japan
dBarai is connected to NTT Docomo, the largest telecommunications company in Japan. You can use the payment app to pay for your monthly phone bill. Then, you can spend your reward points online and offline. It’s not yet widespread and it’s only available in Japanese, so it might only be worth considering for those who use Docomo as their cellular provider. Also, the app does not have an English version, but there is a basic English explanation on the website. Docomo also offers a free points program for their customers, which you can read more about here.
6. Apple Pay Payment App in Japan
- Convenience stores: 7-Eleven, Circle K, Family Mart, Lawson, Ministop and Sunkus
- Supermarkets: AEON, APITA and PIAGO
- Gas stations: ENEOS and Esso Mobil General
- Big retailers: BicCamera, Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Uniqlo
- Other well-known brands: JapanTaxi and Sukiya
In 2016, Apple Pay offered Japanese customers the ability to make personal credit card and prepaid purchases in-store, online and in apps, plus travel and pay for everyday items with Suica from JR East. Apple Pay is also accepted at all locations that accept Suica, QuickPay, or iD prepaid cash cards. In addition to making purchases, users can easily purchase or reload a Suica card or commuter card using the Apple Wallet app on their iPhone.
7. Google Pay Payment App in Japan
Powered by Google, Google Pay is a digital wallet and another payment app in Japan where you can safely add credit cards, transit tickets, loyalty cards and even event tickets. You can set a default payment method, or choose from your registered debit/credit card at checkout. This digital wallet can securely store all of your iD and QUICPay compatible credit/debit cards and loyalty cards. Google Pay supports Suica, as well as Rakuten Edy. In order to use a Japanese-issued credit card with Google Pay, you’ll need a FeliCa chip that supports Osaifu-Keitai on your phone.
Google Pay allows users to enable physical authentication such as fingerprint ID to access the payment app. For devices without fingerprint ID, Google Pay is activated with a passcode. When a user makes a payment to a merchant, Google Pay doesn’t send a credit or debit card number with the payment. Instead, it generates a unique virtual account number that represents the user’s account. This service keeps customer payment information confidential, sending a one-time security code instead of card or user details.
So, which payment app will it be?
Japan is finally getting the hang of being cashless. For years and years, Japan only accepted cash as a form of payment. It wasn’t until a few years ago that Japan grasped the concept. Now, with seven different payment apps in Japan, shoppers are able to have a better purchasing experience. Which one(s) do you have? If you don’t have one yet, which one will you choose? Anything you’d like to share about this topic? Let us know!