Digital redefines Sino-Japanese ties(3)

2018-10-29 09:38:25China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Alipay, a mobile and online payments platform operated by Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of Alibaba, announced in September that it would collaborate with Japanese partners to strengthen cashless experience across the country for tourists before the 2020 Olympic Games begin in Tokyo.

"We look forward to working with a wide range of Japanese partners to achieve this ambition, and in doing so contribute in some way to driving the local economy of areas across Japan," said Eric Jing, executive chairman and CEO of Ant Financial.

According to Alipay data, Chinese visitors' spends through mobile payments are growing rapidly in Japan.

From July to August this year, a Chinese tourist in Japan used Alipay to spend nearly 3,900 yuan ($562) per trip on average, up 52 percent year-on-year, boosting total transaction volume by 165 percent.

Alipay's collaborations with regional Japanese banks such as Hida Credit Union and Kyoto Shinkin Bank have allowed it to make its payment services available at tourist spots and shops in major cities.

The company said it is seeking to further expand its merchant network through tieups with more small and micro-sized merchants and by cooperating with local mobile payment platforms such as Line Pay and Paypay.

Alipay was launched in Japan in December 2015 to provide services to Chinese visitors at local merchants. It is currently available in all 47 prefectures across Japan. It is also available at a wide range of tourism-related outlets like airport shops, department stores, restaurants and popular attractions.

Alibaba's success in Japan has inspired other Chinese players to follow suit.

WeChat Pay, which is owned by tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, became an official mobile payment partner for Japan's Fuji-Q Highland in July.

Most of the stores in the park can use WeChat Pay. Visitors can also use WeChat to buy tickets at a discount, explore the map and check how long queues are at ticket counters and entrances.

Zheng Hongmin, marketing director of Tencent's WeChat Pay international business, said the payment tool division of Tencent collaborates with companies in the retail and catering industries. "But now, we want to bring convenience to Chinese tourists in more aspects like entertainment."

WeChat Pay entered Japan in 2016, and has expanded fast. In June 2017, the number of transactions via WeChat Pay in Japan increased 16 times compared with January 2017.

"The new technological revolution has greatly expanded the fields of cooperation between China and Japan, and the prospects for the cooperation between the two sides are promising," said Ma Mingjie, director-general of the research department of innovation development at the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Ma explained that in the process of pushing forward digital transformation, China and Japan not only attach importance to using new technologies to promote economic transformation and industrial upgrade but also pay attention to using new technologies to serve social development and enhance public service capacity.

China and Japan also see a lot of cooperation opportunities in the booming sharing economy sector.

Chinese bike-sharing platforms such as Mobike Technology Co and Ofo Inc are accelerating their forays into the Japanese market.

In June 2017, Mobike launched a bicycle-sharing service in Fukuoka, marking its Japan debut.

So far, Mobike has offered its services at Nara, Mount Fuji and Kanagawa, and is aiming to provide services in more large and medium-sized cities and at tourist attractions.

In December 2017, Mobike announced it inked a strategic partnership with Line Corp, the company behind Japan's most popular mobile messaging platform Line.

The deal will give Line the largest minority stake - it will be no more than 20 percent - in Mobike Japan.

Mobike's competitor Ofo announced a new partnership agreement with Japanese technology firm SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp to expand its bicycle-sharing services in Japan last year.

Ofo said Japan was a key market for its expansion across the Asia-Pacific region. It aims to improve local transportation ecosystems, Ofo said. "We strive to further improve the convenience and cost-effectiveness that cycling can bring to people in Japan," said Lawrence Cao, head of Ofo's Asia-Pacific business.

Tujia, a Chinese online platform for booking shared accommodation, is chasing the rapidly growing number of outbound Chinese tourists who fancy visiting Japan. It is ramping up efforts to expand its presence in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Tujia set up a small team in Japan in 2016, with a plan to boost its presence to take advantage of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Last year, it teamed up with Rakuten Lifull Stay, an e-commerce company in Japan, to expand Japan's homestay market.

Jiang Zengwei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said by cooperating with Chinese firms, Japanese enterprises can give full play to their advantages in high-end manufacturing, intelligent manufacturing and biotechnology.

They can also strengthen technological exchanges and personnel training, so as to boost the optimization of China's industrial structure, and add new impetus to innovation and development, he said.


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