Payments

Competing for “Cashless Japan”, Visa prepares innovative payment experiences for the 2020 Tokyo Games

  • The government wants to use the 2020 Tokyo Games to accelerate digital payments.
  • As the payment technology partner of the Olympic Games, Visa will roll out new products and services.
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Competing for “Cashless Japan”, Visa prepares innovative payment experiences for the 2020 Tokyo Games

We're about one year away from the next Olympics. Somehow, the Games have turned into a global payments showcase, where leading payments providers roll out new digital, mobile, and wearable tech. Tokyo 2020 will continue in this tradition.

Visa announced that it is preparing innovative payment experiences for athletes, visitors and citizens. Visa's activity contributes to the government’s “Cashless Japan” program that intends to double the digital payment ratio in the country to 40 percent by 2025.

Visa's riding the cashless wave campaign

Using the Olympics to promote digital payments in Japan: Less than 20 percent of all payments in Japan use digital methods. That compares with around 90 percent in South Korea and 50 percent for both the U.S. and China.

  • Visa is running a marketing campaign featuring Team Visa athlete and Japanese Olympic hopeful Kanoa Igarashi. Igarashi competes in the newly added sport of surfing. The “riding the cashless wave” campaign is already live in Japan.
  • Throughout the year, Visa will continue expanding the Team Visa roster, highlighting these Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, to tell their personal stories and in doing so, promote digital payments.

Tearsheet sat with Visa's Chris Curtin, svp, chief brand and innovation marketing officer to talk about Japan's move towards digital and the role Visa has taken to help make that happen.

What could help Japan bridge the digital payment gap with the rest of Asia and the US?

Chris Curtin: There is virtually no other market in the world today that compares to Japan – it is the world’s third largest economy and a leader across many industries, yet commerce remains predominantly cash-based, especially for small ticket transactions.

To its credit, the Japanese government has recognized that now is the time to start to bridge this digital payment gap, having issued a “Cashless Japan” imperative to double the total of payments made digitally to 40 percent by 2025. As a leader in digital payments, we believe that once Japanese citizens begin to experience the speed and ease of digital payments, adoption will quickly follow.

What is Visa doing to help boost acceptance of digital payments prior to the games?

CC: There are several initiatives underway to ensure the best possible commerce and digital payments experiences for Japanese merchants, consumers and fans traveling to the Olympic Games.

Visa recently launched Fintech Fast-Track to make it quicker and easier for fintechs to build and deliver new digital commerce experiences on Visa’s payments network. Visa has also recently partnered with LINE Pay Corporation, operator of digital wallet and fintech services on the LINE messaging app to encourage digital payment adoption.

To support the Japanese government meet the digital payment goals that they have put forward, Visa is working closely with merchants in a wide range of business categories, including Quick Service Restaurants, transit and convenience stores, to upgrade and enable contactless point-of-sale and to drive adoption for digital payments prior to the start of Tokyo 2020. Visa is working hard to raise consumer awareness, broker partnerships that will increase adoption rates and show the benefits for consumers and merchants alike.

There will be more programs rolling out over the course of the coming year to further acceptance and education for digital payments in Japan.

How do you improve and expand on what Visa did at the last games?

CC: The world changes a lot in just two years, and we always find new opportunities to showcase both the best of our brand and the best of payments at a truly global event like the Olympic Games. We are constantly looking for ways to showcase our innovative payment technology, while improving the fan experiences for those on-site at the Games, and for fans watching from home.

For Tokyo 2020, we are exploring payment innovations ranging from biometric payment authentication and wearables to new mobile applications which will include digitally-issued cards, with hopes that more consumers will embrace digital payments. Ultimately, we want to wow fans with technology that leaves a lasting impression and legacy.

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