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The Ultimate Guide to Japan’s Payment Methods

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Popular online payment methods in Japan.

Japan is a densely populated nation of 126.8 million citizens, often touted as the mecca of technological innovation. (JP Morgan)  It may come as a surprise that Japan has one of the lowest cross-border shopping rates at just over 10%. (Clickz.com) This untapped market has tremendous upside to those who understand how to localize their shopping experience to meet cultural expectations in this thriving digital market. 

Uncovering Japan’s Unique Ecommerce Culture

Japan’s tantalizing $177.5 billion ecommerce market is unlike any other. (JP Morgan) To break into this market, it is important to identify key distinctions in Japan’s ecommerce culture.

Any business looking to make inroads into Japan must master the country’s cultural norms and expectations for digital commerce experiences. Around 99% of Japan’s population only speaks Japanese, and content must be flawlessly presented to meet cultural norms. Merchants must invest in Japanese language websites and payment platforms that provide access to local currencies and payment methods. eCommerce page layout and design must also be optimized for Japanese expectations. eCommerce sites in Japan look different from westernized sites and feature dense images and text with a high level of product details and information favored over whitespace.

Additional Considerations:

  • With an aging population, many Japanese still shop on desktops 
  • Japan has a considerably low smartphone penetration in comparison to other developed nations at 55%(JP Morgan)
  • Just 24.4% of all B2C commerce is mobile. 2023, mobile commerce is expected to increase to $97.8 billion (JP Morgan)

Given the tremendous growth predicted in the Japanese market, companies need to consider how the Japanese make purchases and to understand popular payment methods in this island nation. Those that can integrate the right payments into their ecommerce experiences will benefit in this market.

Pay Attention to these Popular Payment Methods in Japan

Japan’s Preferred Payment Methods Based on a 2020 Survey of Online Shoppers

Pie Chart of Payment Methods in Japan
Source: Rapyd Asia Pacific eCommerce and Payments Guide 2020

Japanese consumers use a wide breadth of payment methods which shows in their preferences. Ranging from credit cards to cash over the counter and beyond. 

Payment methods in Japan are at a critical crossroads. There are trends emerging within the four major payment categories that are important to understand. Bank transfers still remain popular as do credit cards. However, changes in cash over the counter and ewallets are worth noting.

Credit Cards

Like their western counterparts, Japanese consumers are enamored with credit cards. Recent surveys show that credit cards serve as a preferred payment method for 57.6% of the population. (Rapyd)This is especially true online where 65% of ecommerce purchases are made with cards. (JP Morgan)

In many ways, a preference towards credit cards is a reflection of Japan’s age demographic. Both the older majority of the population and younger consumers have access to cards. This combined with the fact that people over the age of 40 are more likely to shop online explains why credit cards are frequently used. (VL Clank) As such, this Japanese payment method is here to stay.

Cash Over the Counter

Second only to credit cards, Japanese consumers are heavy users of cash over the counter for digital purchases. Rapyd’s own research noted that 11% of Japanese consumers rank it as their most preferred method. (Rapyd)

Cash accounts for 13% of ecommerce in Japan. (JP Morgan) Cash payment is not unique to Japan, but the preference of consumers in a highly developed financial market to convenience stores to make cash payments for online transactions is distinctly Japanese. The sheer abundance of over 50,000 convenience stores in Japan further explains this phenomenon, as convenience stores are easy to reach in dense urban areas. (Japan Guide)

Digital Wallets

Society is continually moving towards digitization in Japan. The fastest emerging payment methods in Japan are PayPay, Rakuten Pay and other digital wallets. ( Tokyo Cheapo) It is anticipated that these methods will combine for up to 7% of the ecommerce payment market. (JP Morgan) Considering the fact that this can account for billions of dollars in transactions, businesses need to offer popular digital wallets as payment options.

Bank Transfers

Bank accounts are a major staple in Japan. Today 98% of all Japanese citizens have bank accounts. (JP Morgan) The way that they use bank transfers varies from other cultures, however. In Japan, it is common to leverage bank transfers to pay companies directly rather than simply as a way of exchanging money with friends and family. With this unique distinction, bank transfers serve as an area of interest to those trying to break into the market.

Accepting the Right Payment Methods in Japan

It’s clear that companies around the world see tremendous potential in the Japanese ecommerce space. Supporting these methods will increase conversions and introduce new consumers to the international marketplace. Accepting popular payment methods will allow businesses to share in The Land of the Rising Sun’s mobile commerce growth. 

Quickly and Easily Accept All Japanese payment methods with Rapyd’s All-in-One Payment Solution for Japan.

Sources:

Clank. https://www.vlcank.com/mr/report/090/2/.

Clickz.com. “A comprehensive guide to the Japanese ecommerce market.” Clickz.com, https://www.clickz.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-japanese-ecommerce-market/260277/.

Investopedia. “The Top 25 Economies in the World.” Investopedia.com, https://www.investopedia.com/insights/worlds-top-economies/.

Japan Guide. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2071.html.

JP Morgan. “E-commerce Payments Trends: Japan.” JPMorgan.com, https://www.jpmorgan.com/europe/merchant-services/insights/reports/japan.

JP Morgan. “2020 E-commerce Payments Trends Report: Japan.” jpmorgan.com, 2020, https://www.jpmorgan.com/merchant-services/insights/reports/Japan-2020. Accessed 2021.

Rapyd. “Asia Pacific eCommerce and Payments Guide 2020.” https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/5246303/Asia%20Pacific%20eCommerce%20and%20Payments%20Guide%202020.pdf.

Tokyo Cheapo. https://tokyocheapo.com/living/cashless-payment-apps-japan/.

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