Rakuten Card has come a long way since launching in 2005 as a young fintech upstart with the goal of converting Japan’s cash-loving culture and making shopping more convenient. Now, Rakuten Card has been recognized for achieving “the No.1 Credit Card Shopping gross transaction value in Japan*” by Japan’s Yano Research Institute. It also hit a major milestone in June: 20 million cardholders.
The power of points
Rakuten has led the charge for the expansion of Japan’s cashless payments, having created — in addition to Rakuten Card — the ubiquitous Rakuten Edy e-money brand, as well as Japan’s favorite loyalty program, Rakuten Points. And it is this latter point (pun intended) that has proven particularly crucial for the popularity of the Rakuten credit card.
Rakuten members earn points from using their card. Not only that, there’s a multiplying effect when members use their Rakuten Card to shop on a number of other services. As points accumulate, they can promptly be spent throughout the company’s robust ecosystem — a powerful value proposition for customers able to access over 70 Rakuten services.
Customized cards a hit in Japan
The 20 million milestone was achieved ahead of schedule thanks to a wave of recent signups, including an additional 1 million cardholders over a five month span earlier this year. In October 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Economy launched the Project for Encouraging Businesses to Introduce Cashless Payment Systems and Pass on Benefits to Consumers — part of a proactive push for cashless payments.
A number of marketing campaigns have also attracted the attention of new customers. These included the release of Disney designs including a Minnie Mouse-design Rakuten Card in April 2020 and a Michinoku bank-design Rakuten Card — the first original design card issued with a bank — in June 2020.
Perhaps inspired by the momentum of campaigns like this in Japan, Taiwan Rakuten Card, a subsidiary of Rakuten Card, released credit cards featuring Rakuten Monkeys designs to celebrate the baseball team’s entry into the Rakuten Group. Since Taiwan Rakuten Card began issuing credit cards in 2015, the number of cardholders in Taiwan has continued to grow every year. Over 590,000 Taiwan Rakuten Card credit cards have been issued in Taiwan as of July 2020.
While Rakuten Card may no longer be the little guy, its upstart spirit and goal of empowering shoppers remains strong.
Editor’s note: *Value of purchase transactions in the domestic market of FY2018 based on credit card issuers, survey by Yano Research Institute, Ltd. as of November 2019. The research results are the estimate obtained through qualitative surveys and analytic methods.