Going cashless has never been easier for small businesses in Japan.
Since 2012, Rakuten Pay has provided retail shops and restaurants with a simple, convenient solution for cashless payments. For consumers, the Rakuten Pay app allows shoppers to simply show or scan a barcode or QR code to make their purchase.
Barcode and QR code payments have become ubiquitous in Japan over the past half decade, and Rakuten Pay has led the charge. Rakuten’s offering has always been a popular choice for merchants thanks to its synergy with the Rakuten Ecosystem and its swift transfers, which can be as quick as the very next day.
Cashless payment services like Rakuten Pay can create new avenues for acquiring customers, allowing merchants to streamline their businesses even further.Takayuki Tsuchida, Manager of Empowerment Sales Group No.1, Rakuten Pay’s Business Division
But as of October 2021, Rakuten has made the deal sweeter than ever: Rakuten Pay is effectively free for new merchants to use for the next 12 months.
Nothing sweeter than free
“Rakuten Pay already serves many convenience stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and other locations that support the lives of everyday people,” says Tomoyuki Tsuchida, manager of Empowerment Sales Group No.1 in Rakuten Pay’s Business Division. “Last year we even implemented support for (rail card/transportation e-money) Suica, so we’re even covering people’s transportation needs.”
In total, Rakuten Pay can be used at some five million locations around Japan — an astonishing number that covers many major retail chains and all of the country’s numerous convenience stores. But the Rakuten Pay team also sees significant value in how its product can be used by smaller businesses. “We already serve a good number of small to medium-sized businesses, but there are still many who have yet to try the service.”
We want to make sure Japan’s small and medium-sized businesses are not left behind by the cashless movement.Tomoyuki Tsuchida, Manager of Empowerment Sales Group No.1 in Rakuten Pay’s Business Division
It is exactly these merchants that the Rakuten Pay team is targeting with their new campaign. New signups from small to medium sized merchants (those logging annual sales of one billion yen or less, or around USD nine million dollars) will have all fees returned to them as cashback until the end of September 2022.
“Cashless payment services like Rakuten Pay can create new avenues for acquiring customers, allowing merchants to streamline their businesses even further,” Tsuchida explains.
“That’s why we want to give merchants the opportunity to use Rakuten Pay with no burden on their side, so that they can experience the value and convenience of code payments for themselves.”
Leading the cashless charge
The rise of code payments has contributed significantly to Japan’s long march to cashless freedom. Since 2016, the industry has welcomed countless new players, yet Rakuten Pay has remained a favorite for both merchants and shoppers.
“It’s very easy to get started with the app,” Tsuchida explains. “Shoppers need only sign in with their Rakuten ID and choose how they want to pay, and they’re ready to start shopping.”
In addition to credit cards such as the perennially popular Rakuten Card, users can even make use of the Rakuten Points they have earned through using any of dozens of online services Rakuten operates in Japan.
“By implementing Rakuten Pay, merchants are not only giving their customers more options, but they can also expect business from loyal Rakuten members,” Tsuchida explains. This effectively connects them to the Rakuten Ecosystem — which is firmly anchored by the Rakuten Points loyalty program — enabling even smaller merchants to provide shoppers with loyalty benefits.
“Meanwhile, the balance can be deposited into the merchant’s bank account as early as the very next day, allowing them to maintain a revenue stream similar to that of cash.”
Empowering lasting change
Rakuten has decades of experience working with Japan’s smaller businesses. Since the 1990s, Rakuten Ichiba has been actively encouraging brick and mortar stores all over the country to get online, and other services like Rakuten Travel have followed in its footsteps.
In a rapidly changing payment landscape, the motive behind Tsuchida’s and his team’s ambitious campaign is clear. “We want to make sure Japan’s small and medium-sized businesses are not left behind by the cashless movement.”