Payments via QR Code slowly becoming more widespread in Japan

This handout photo provided by Rakuten shows how someone can use a smartphone and QR codes to buy refreshments.

The number of restaurants, convenience stores and other shops accepting payments with smartphones using QR codes is rising in Japan, although the pace of growth is slow.

Major information technology firms are working to promote a cashless payment system and banks are also joining the drive in the country, where cash still remains the main payment option.

Payments through QR codes require the use of smartphone apps, such as Rakuten Pay or Line Pay, operated by Rakuten Inc. and Line Corp., respectively.

Shops typically have to shoulder around 3 percent of settlement commission fees on payments made through QR code apps, but Line recently launched a campaign to make such fee payments unnecessary for three years. Mobile phone carrier SoftBank Corp. and internet portal Yahoo Japan Corp. are set to start similar campaigns this fall.

In cooperation with an information technology firm, the Bank of Yokohama has launched a QR code payment service for customers with deposit accounts at the regional lender operating mainly in Kanagawa Prefecture. Resona Bank and Japan Post Bank are planning to follow suit.

Mizuho Bank will offer a service on a trial basis with such regional lenders as Fukushima-based Toho Bank.

The trade ministry has launched a committee with representatives from 200 companies on the establishment of unified QR code-payment standards.

Still, the services are not as widespread as they are abroad.

The manager of a Tokyo restaurant, which introduced a QR code payment format last year, said that the number of such payments totals “two or three a day at most” at the eatery.

QR code payment services are not familiar to the public because the number of shops that have introduced such systems has been limited, the restaurant manager said.

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