Alipay now serves over 300,000 merchants in Japan

It’s a promising trend ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

An employee scans a quick response (QR) code displayed on the Ant Financial Services Group's Alipay app, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., inside a Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd. store in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. The urgency to prepare regulatory environments for fintech is growing as banks begin offering digital services such as biometric authentication and as mobile-payment systems such as Apple Pay and AliPay are introduced around the region. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

The chairman and CEO of Ant Financial, Jing Xiandong (Eric Jing), revealed yesterday that Alipay is now connected with more than 300,000 merchants in Japan, after first entering the market in 2015, reports Chinese media outlet Xinhua.

Japan was the fourth largest market for Alipay transactions during China’s Golden Week holiday in May, almost tying with third-placed South Korea, with transaction volume increasing 25% year-on-year.

These are promising signs for a country that has resisted the shift away from cash toward digital transactions. Cashless payments in Japan account as little as 18.4% of all transactions, according to official statistics.

Yet the Japanese government is hoping to boost digital payments in the country, particularly in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, so as to not miss out on revenue.

Chinese visitors to Japan spent over USD 14.3 billion (RMB 98.3 billion) in 2017. Last year, the average Chinese tourist spent more than USD 3,400 (RMB 22,900) per trip, not including tour package fees and major transportation costs, according to a joint report by Nielsen and Alipay.