Rakuten Pay App gets a facelift
Another day, another cashless payments announcement in Japan! As part of their Q4 and full year 2018 earnings release on February 12, 2019, Rakuten announced an update for its Rakuten Pay App, to be released on March 18, 2019. The various payment functions, namely
- Rakuten Points and Rakuten Cash,
- Credit cards, including the Rakuten Card,
- Barcode & QR code payment functionality,
- Rakuten Edy,
- as well as the Rakuten Point Card barcode
will be embedded in a single application.
To promote the adoption of cashless payments, Rakuten also announced that the stadiums hosting their professional football and baseball teams, Noevir Stadium in Kobe and Rakuten Seimei Park in Miyagi, will only accept cashless payments for the 2019 season.
In other news, Rakuten Bank reported a 20+% increase in deposits during fiscal year 2018. Total deposits of JPY 2,481bn (USD 22.5bn) compare favorably with much touted European challenger banks like N26, which is reported to have reached just about EUR 1bn (USD 1.1bn) in customer balances. On the other hand, Marcus, the consumer financial services arm of investment bank Goldman Sachs, has reached USD 35bn in deposits since its inception, the fasted pace for any FinTech startup on record.
Not to be outdone by telecom giant KDDI announcing a bundling of its payments & financial services activities in a holding company on the same day, Rakuten published a new company structure that will become effective on April 1, 2019. This new structure will bundle “traditional” financial services offerings including banking, insurance, securities and investment management as subsidiaries under Rakuten Card, while Rakuten Payment will combine the Edy payment service as well as the cryptocurrency exchange “Minna no Bitcoin” (“Everybody’s Bitcoin”), acquired in September 2018, and due to re-launch its services in April 2019, as communicated during the recent Japan Blockchain Week. The alignment of “Minna no Bitcoin” under a structure separate from traditional securities brokerage is noteworthy in our view.