The Japanese financial cards and payment landscape is undergoing a potentially radical transformation, supported by government efforts to promote a cashless society. Cash remained the dominant method of payment in Japan in 2019, but the expansion of e-commerce and the increasingly embedded role of smartphones in consumers’ daily lives are boosting consumers’ familiarity with financial cards and e-payment.
Expanding cashless payment to small retailers is a key feature of the development of financial cards and payment in Japan. Government plans to promote cashless payment included offering 5% of purchase value to consumers who make cashless payments at small and medium-sized retailers for a nine month period from October 2019.
While Japan has established strong technological foundations for the potential development of payment methods such as mobile wallets, these payment options have struggled to gain in popularity in the country. Japanese consumers remain emotionally attached to cash and concerned about the security of cashless transactions.
Loyalty programmes and reward schemes are proving to be an important tool as companies seek to differentiate their offers in an increasingly competitive environment. Indeed, loyalty programmes have been a key factor in the relative popularity of credit cards compared with debit cards in the Japanese market.
While consumer conservatism and concerns about security will continue to act as obstacles to the development of financial cards during the forecast period, credit cards, debit cards and pre-paid cards are all expected to see continued growth. The expansion of cashless payment will be supported by government efforts to provide a favourable regulatory environment and incentives to promote the use of cashless payment methods.
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