Imagine yourself living in a world wherein your trusted treasurer is your one and only mobile phone…
Your phone can manage your cash in and out and it is in charge of paying your bills. In short, your mobile wallet.
Well, that idea itself is not impossible today. The technological and scientific advancement made us realize this innovative idea of cashless payment or paying without cash. How?…
You can pay with just your smartphone by making tap-to-pay or showing a certain code. You are right, this is introduced as mobile payment.
The question is…
- How does this cashless payment work?
- What are the two technologies used by mobile payment service providers?
- What are the best mobile apps to use in Japan?
It is a fact that even foreign workers love the reigning king, cash. And 70% of the population prefers cash payment over cashless payments such as mobile payments. Still, the Japanese government still envision cashless Japan in the future by doubling the ratio of card and e-money transactions. They encouraged everyone to use digital payments, and get off from the claw of cash.
However, this sad situation will seriously change. Why?…
Because of these key players. Since Japanese firms are the ones who invented the Near Field Communication(NFC) technology respectfully by Sony and NXP Semiconductors in 2002, and the QR Codes system by Denso Wave Company in 1994, there is no doubt that Japan will join the top user of mobile payment services in the future.
Did you know? The first mobile wallet app in history was created by I Mode and Docomo in 1999 in Japan.
What are Mobile Payment Providers?
Mobile Payment Providers are companies that provide payment services operated under financial regulation and performed from or via a mobile device. Instead of paying with cash, cheque (or check), or credit cards, you can use your mobile phone to pay for a variety of services and digital or hard goods you purchased. Google, Apple, online and offline financial institutions, and mobile communication companies in Japan such as NTT Docomo have developed these mobile payment services.
With a mobile payment system, you can transfer cash which means you are allowed to send and receive money through your mobile phone device. These platforms allow you to pay for the goods purchased or services rendered using your mobile phone. The good thing is that you can do this without going to their branch offices. You can do this from anywhere as long as your mobile phone is connected to the internet. This is made possible because of the technology ever created in Japan.
Ever since Japan created the key players, there was no other technology created for mobile payment in the country. This is the reason why Japan is one of the technology leaders in the world. We will discuss briefly the two mobile payment technologies ever created in the country.
2 Mobile Payment Technologies
The transaction is very fast just by tapping or hovering on the NFC-enabled readers. Examples of NFC enabled mobile payments are Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Near-field communication(NFC) devices contain an NFC chip which is commonly found in smartphones. This chip contains data for secure transactions. These devices act as an electronic keycard which is used for contactless payment and thus, replacing credit cards and smart cards in mobile payment. NFC is also used for sharing small files such as contacts, photos, videos, and other files.
Smartphones with NFC can:
Can act as smart cards that will allow users to do mobile payment. This feature is known as NFC card emulation.
Can read information stored on NFC tags embedded in posters and labels. This feature is known as an NFC reader/writer.
Can communicate with another NFC device exchanging information. This feature is known as NFC peer-to-peer.
This is done by scanning the QR code by a merchant or by the user’s phone. Examples are Alipay and WeChat Pay. This mode of mobile payment is performed by scanning a QR code from a mobile app. QR code acts as an alternative to electronic funds transfer at point of sale using a payment terminal. Thus, this avoids a lot of the infrastructure traditionally associated with electronic payments such as payment cards, payment networks, payment terminal, and merchant accounts.
Using a QR code mobile payment is very simple. You will scan the QR code displayed by the merchant with your phones to pay for your goods. Second, they enter the amount they have to pay and finally submit. Yes, this is a more secure method than card-involved payments.
Best Mobile Payment Apps in Japan
With the cooperation of the key players above, there are a lot of mobile payments in Japan. We choose 10 of them which are the best. Not only for locals, these 10 mobile payments will surely help you as a foreign worker in Japan because some applications below are English-supported.
As a payment method when purchasing products, this app is created by Paypay Corporation- a joint venture of Softbank and Yahoo! Japan in October 2018. Paypay supports Qr code technology. You should connect your PayPay account with your bank account or Yahoo! wallet accounts. Paypay allows sending money to friends and family. The mobile payment service is only available at brick and mortar stores.
- PayPay is like a prepaid card.
- There are no fees to join
- No fees to pay with PayPay
- No minimum balance required
- All you have to do to join is put in your phone number, a password, and passcode that they send you via text.
- This is an acceptable payment option at more than 100 shops, restaurants, bars, and even hotels, including convenience stores like FamilyMart and Mini Stop.
- Shops that accept PayPay have PayPay’s trademark red “P” near the register. Visit their website to learn more.
Ways to pay using Paypay:
- You scan a QR code at the cashier, input your total bill amount, and show the confirmation to the seller’s screen.
- You can show the barcode on your app, which the cashier can scan and process into a payment automatically.
- Being a PayPay member is handy, for every purchase made using PayPay, the user gets 0.5 percent back.
- If you are a new user, you will also get 500 yen added to your account, and the first time you add money to your PayPay you will also get 1,000 yen free.
- You might get an additional gift of 500 yen depending on your mobile phone.
Get 1% of PayPay Bonus by using payment mode.
- The amount charged to PayPay is usable for shopping at the PayPay mall also.
Your T points can be used to pay with PayPay.
- However, there are stores where T points may not be available.
PayPay is currently available only in Japan so overseas app stores do not have the availability. This also means that no English-language accessible at the moment, but if you’re living in Japan and have a way to read and translate Japanese, this might be a great mobile payment system to use.
Get it on App Store or Google Play.
2. Line Pay
This mobile payment service is created by Line, Japan’s most renowned messaging app. Line Pay was created in December 2014 and it supports QR code technology. 79 million users in Japan and 194 million users globally use this mobile payment system. You can add your balance through your bank account or by asking at any convenience stores in Japan. Line Pay has an auto-charge function and this is available at brick and mortar stores as well as online stores. Line Pay is very secure and trustworthy. It passed the PCI DSS and ISO/IEC 27001 standards.
- According to Line, “Line Pay is a payment service that allows you to make purchases from Line Pay Merchants.”
- Send money and split bills with your Line friends through your mobile phone.
- Make payments easily with your credit card without registering, and if you register for Line Cash (a Line Pay account), you can make payments with your balance, as well as request money and make requests to split bills.”
- The mobile service is offered worldwide through the Line app, unlike other Line services.
- Additionally, Line Pay Card was launched as a new service in 2016. This feature is available for Japanese users only. Line Pay Card can be used with Line services, but it can be used in brick-and-mortar stores as a regular JCB debit card as well.
The benefits of Line Pay Card
- It’s absolutely free. You will not pay if you want to apply or recharge the balance. You lose nothing even if you applied but didn’t use the service.
- The application is simple and straightforward. Your card will be sent after the application through your mailbox
- The English language is available.
- Get Line points. Line points will be given on every transaction. You can use the points in topping-up your Line Pay Card, or buy Line in-game stuff (as well as stickers).
- Send money to Line friends.
3. Rakuten Pay
This app is yours truly by Rakuten, a popular online shop in Japan. This mobile payment service was created in October 2016 and supports the QR code technology. You can sync your mobile app to a credit card. Plus, you can gain reward points that are usable in any shop in partnership with Rakuten. If you have a Rakuten credit card, you can double the points you gained. Easy, huh. Rakuten Pay is available at both online and offline shops. Rakuten Pay is the largest QR code payment service in Japan by the number of users.
According to Rakuten, “Rakuten Pay was introduced in 2012 for primarily small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) who did not have a point of sale (POS) system. It enables easy credit card payments (pay in-store) at a low cost to merchants using the consumers’ mobile devices. In 2016, Rakuten Pay App, which enables payments through a smartphone app, was launched. Today it is now used by a rapidly growing number of small- to large-scale retail stores.”
- The Rakuten Pay smartphone app allows a Rakuten member to easily link the credit cards registered on their Rakuten account to make payments via the app.
- This service offers three payment methods: the “QR scan” method in which you scan a QR code using your smartphone; the “Code display” method in which a shop assistant scans a barcode or QR code displayed on your smartphone; and the “Self” method in which you selects the shop to which they wish to make a payment to and enters the amount to pay.
- Using the Rakuten Pay service enables users to earn and use Rakuten Super Points.
- If users of the service set the Rakuten Card as their default credit card for payments, they can earn both points for Rakuten Pay (1 point for every 200 yen spent) and Rakuten Card (1 point for every 100 yen spent).
- When shopping at eligible stores, users are able to make payments by scanning QR codes displayed on a tablet device in the store or scanning a printed QR code with their smartphone.
Get it on App Store or Google Play.
4. Origami Pay
This app was invented by Origami in the year 2015 including the mobile payment feature. This system supports QR code technology. There are 1.45 million partner stores in Japan and 1,000 partners stores globally. Did you know that these partner stores can be found on the Origami app’s map?
Origami said that there are 5 reasons to use Origami Pay.
Reason1. Your smartphone becomes your wallet. Never go through the hassle of finding bills and counting coins in your purse again. Pay with ease using your smartphone.
Reason2. It costs absolutely nothing. Membership is free of charge and commission fees are always 0.
Reason3. It is easy to use. Simply tell the shop staff that you want to pay with Origami, open the app, and scan. That’s all it takes to make a payment!
Reason4. It is safe and secure. Your information is stored in the highest level of secure environments – there is nothing to worry about.
Reason5. It brings you better deals. Paying with Origami means you will always get special discounts and rewards when you shop.
If you have any concerns or troubles with their App, please make inquiries using this help request form.
Get it on App Store or Google Play.
This app was created by NTT Docomo, Japan’s major mobile phone operator in April 2018. It supports QR code technology. This lets you pay your monthly phone bills in the company. You don’t have to connect to a bank account or a credit card because you will be redirected through your Docomo account. As a mobile payment choice, D-barai also offers earnable reward points and this is available at online and offline stores.
- Easy mobile phone settlement
- Hassle-free and comfortable payment
- Easy and quick start
- The required application is not troublesome. If you are a Docomo member, you do not need to register a credit card.
- Easy, safe, and secure to start.
- Collect and use your d points.
- Depending on the payment amount, you will earn d points.
- You can easily use d points with one tap from the payment screen of the application.
- Enhanced wallet function
- Remittance with one d-payment application.
- Send your d-points.
- Use your points for online shopping.
- Use the app in shopping even without a credit card.
- The mobile payment service is secure and trustworthy.
An app created by Mercari, the country’s popular second-hand items shop in February 2019.”Mer Pay” is a payment service provided by Mer Pay Co., Ltd. that uses the Mercari app. This mobile payment supports NFC and QR code technology. Link your bank account or use your earning from your sales on the Mercari marketplace to use the app. There are 1 million users of the mobile payment app and there are 900,000 partner stores across the country.
Features of Merpay:
- The app can be used in stores throughout Japan.
- It is acceptable at stores nationwide, such as convenience stores, restaurants, and drug stores.
- You can also use it at some online shops.
- Sales from Mercari can be used through Merpay. Even if you don’t have any sales, you can easily charge from your bank account.
- If you confirm the identity of Merpay (“Register a bank account for payment” or “Identify yourself with the app”), you will get benefits.
- There is no 180-day transfer application deadline (expiration date) for sales proceeds.
- The transfer when withdrawing to a bank account is also completed in 1 business day (*excluding Japan Post Bank).
Get it on App Store or Google Play.
7. Pixiv Pay
A mobile app created by Pixiv in August 2017. Pixiv Pay supports QR code technology. You have to create a Pixiv account to activate the mobile app.
pixiv PAY “is a mobile payment app that allows the buyer to make a payment by simply reading the QR code displayed by the seller.
- For transactions, you can use a credit card registered in pixiv PAY, as well as card information registered in your pixiv account and other services managed by pixiv.
- You can also display the total amount of the items you purchased and have access to a “cash register”, where you can record the number of sales and the profits.
- You can shop at doujinshi(comics) events without having to carry large amounts of cash with you! Also, sales are transferred to your bank account. If you’re a seller, you won’t have to carry cash with you back home!
- You can connect with your fans and easily check your profits.
- Send messages to your followers and users who have purchased your works.
- Search for circles that will accept payments through pixiv PAY in the upcoming events.
- Enjoy the 16 voices of pixiv’s original character
- Pay-tan whenever you make a purchase within their tables.
Download it for free!
App Store からダウンロード
Google Play からダウンロード
Compatibility: Requires iOS 10.0 or later or Android 5.0 or later
How to use the app:
If you are the buyer:
The seller generates a QR code
and shows it to the buyer.
Have the buyer
scan the QR code.
Once the payment is confirmed
hand the goods over to the buyer!
If you are the seller:
Item QR Code
Print a different QR code for each item and display it on your table.
The buyer scans the QR code
with their smartphone.
After checking the order details,
tap the “Pay” button.
Once the payment is confirmed,
show the screen to the seller!
This mobile payment app was created by “pring” in March 2018. It uses QR code technology in mobile payments. Link your bank account in the mobile app. The app has a chat function and is available at retail stores.
Pring is a money communication app, meaning it is solely focusing on money transfer.
It is a money transfer application that allows you to easily exchange money as if you were sending a message to the other party with a smartphone.
QR settlement when accounting at shops, vending and collecting money with friends, and
remittance between individuals in various situations is completed quickly and conveniently with a smartphone.
Conditions for using pring:
- Mobile phones(excluding tablets)
- Devices that can receive SMS (device authentication)
- iOS 11 or later, Android 6 or later
- The mobile payment app is directly connected to a bank account.
- You can exchange money with your friends, acquaintances, and remote families just on your mobile phone.
- QR code enabled.
- Stores accept this mode of mobile payment.
- You can choose whether to charge your payment to the application or return it to the account and pay with cash.
Get in Google Play store.
9. Apple Pay
Apple Pay was created by Apple in October 2016. This is indeed very famous in Japan because of it’s NFC supported technology. Commuting and small payments play a big role in Japan. This is why Apple Pay is one of the most used mobile payment app by local and foreign workers. The app is connectable to e-money prepaid cards in the country such as SUICA. QUICPay, and ID.
Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile payments service. This mobile payment is also available with the Apple Watch. Apple has used the Apple symbol followed by “Pay” for the mobile payment service’s name.
Following the release of iOS 10.1, Apple Pay became available in Japan on October 24, 2016. Apple Pay is usable at all locations that accept Suica, QuicPay, or iD, but the mobile payment only works in retail locations with the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple’s latest iPhones.
If you have credit and debit cards issued by American Express, JCB, Mastercard, Aeon Financial, Orico, Credit Saison, SoftBank, d Card, View Card, MUFG Card, APLUS, EPOS, JACCS, Cedyna, POCKETCARD, Life, and more, Apple Pay in Japan works with them.
According to Apple, “Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile payment service, which lets iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, SE, X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, and Apple Watch owners make payments using NFC with their devices.”
- NFC Integration
- Touch ID for Security
- Available in more than a dozen countries
- Accepted at millions of locations in Japan
- Available on the internet too
- Paying through a person-to-person method
- Tokenization is made to secure the transaction, not revealing the credit card number to the hackers.
How to link your cards to the app:
- Your credit and debit cards are verified in just a few seconds, but some cards require you for a phone call, app download, or an email to verify a card before it can be added to Apple Pay. This way, your account will be secured.
- Once a card is verified, you can now use your Apple Pay for purchases both in stores and within apps. Eight cards are the maximum number of cards that can be registered with Apple Pay at one time.
As the product is made by Apple, it is self-explanatory that this app is only available at App Store.
10. Google Pay
Google Pay(G Pay) was created by Google in February 2018 which was named Pay with Google and Android Pay in December 2016. This mobile payment app which also supports NFC is a digital wallet platform and online payment system developed by Google to power in-app and tap-to-pay purchases on mobile devices, enabling users to make payments with Android phones, tablets, or watches. Unlike Apple Pay, this mobile payment is connectable to the five most famous prepaid cards in Japan namely SUICA, QUICPay, Rakuten Edy, nanako, and WAON. This mobile payment also supports passes such as coupons, boarding passes, student ID cards, event tickets, movie tickets, public transportation tickets, store cards, and loyalty cards.
Setting Up Google Pay:
- Download your app on Google Play or the App Store. Visit pay.google.com for more.
- Sign in to your Google Account and add a payment method.
- If you want to use Google Pay in stores, check to see if your phone has NFC.
Where to Use Google Pay:
- In stores, you don’t need to see the Google Pay logo to use Google Pay in stores. If the store accepts contactless payments, you can pay with your phone. You can also look for one of these symbols:
- In apps and on websites, pay with Google Pay anywhere you see Google logos.
How to use:
- In paying in stores or in transit, unlock your phone. Then, hold the back of your phone close to the terminal for a few seconds. Finally, follow the instructions on the reader’s screen.
- In paying in apps and websites, click the Google Pay button at the checkout. If asked, choose a payment method and enter your shipping address. Then, confirm the order.
- In sending money, open Google Pay first. At the bottom, tap Send. Then, find your contact and follow the instructions.
Google Pay is available for Android and IOS Users which means you can get it from both Google Play and App Store.
Mobile payment is a convenient way of paying bills. Tapping or scanning a specific code in your mobile phone won’t take long. This is actually a must-have application for the Japanese community especially for foreign workers who have a tight schedule every day. This includes waking up in the morning, buying goods and services in the convenience stores, and commuting through train stations. In Japan, this is a good solution for workaholics, and a wise decision because they invented the NFC and QR code respectively. There are a number of choices in mobile payments in Japan, so we recommend you to learn about them. So, are you ready to embrace the fantastic idea?