Japanese telecom carrier KDDI partners Lawson on mobile payments

Photo: Bloomberg

KDDI, one of Japan’s leading cellphone service carriers, and convenience chain operator Lawson on Monday agreed to a mobile payments partnership.

KDDI will purchase a 20% stake of Loyalty Marketing, which operates the Ponta point card, originally a Lawson program that has since grown. The stake will be purchased from Mitsubishi Corp., which owns more than 50% of Lawson.

Ponta cards and points also operate as e-money, which is accepted at partner retailers. With the deal, KDDI users will be able to use their phones to make Ponta purchases.

Mitsubishi’s share in Loyalty Marketing is expected to decrease to 20%. KDDI will also purchase a 2% stake in Lawson, which is equivalent to 12 billion yen.

Lawson has a market value of 610 billion yen ($5.5 billion). Mitsubishi Corp will maintain its stake of 50% or more in Lawson.

KDDI has 40 million mobile subscribers, 7 million of whom use au pay, a payment service that the company launched in April. Meanwhile, there are 90 million Ponta users across Japan.

With these numbers, the partnership will allow KDDI and Lawson to deepen their ties in data analytics.

Consumers who visit Lawson will eventually receive coupons through their phones based on their preferences.

Japan’s mobile payments market has Softbank’s PayPay, with 20 million or more users; Line Pay, with 36.9 million users; and an NTT Docomo program, with 20 million users. In November, Yahoo Japan operator Z holdings and Line agreed to merge, a deal that shows how mergers and business tie-ups are accelerating in the cashless payments field as players look for more users.

This article was first published in Nikkei Asian Review

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.