According to Nikkei financial daily, major US tech company Google is set to expand its financial services in the Japanese market by purchasing Japanese smartphone payment startup Pring for over 20 billion yen ($181.9 million USD).
With the new acquisition, the US mega tech company will offer finance tech in Japan next year, following its launch in the US and India.
Pring is a Tokyo-based cashless payment and settlement startup established by Mizuho Bank and other investors. The startup has partnered with 50 Japanese banks including the three megabanks, and the 7-11 convenience store chain.
The newly acquired company may have an advantage over other cashless payment service providers thanks to the many corporations behind it, and the numerous potential customers.
The Pring App provides users with utility functions like making payments, cash transfers, and withdrawals on smartphones and computers.
Google’s move into fintech services in Japan is an example of tech companies using their strong online presence and vast databases to become shops for various services such as finance and shopping.
Google launched Google Pay in 2015, which is a smartphone-based payment service formerly known as Android Pay. The service has over 150 million monthly users and is used in more than 40 countries, including Japan.
Google Pay in Japan currently has partnered with major credit and prepaid card brands. However, it could offer financial services on its own, rather than on behalf of those partners via its Pring acquisition.
Cashless payments have not been popular in Japan as cashless payment among retail consumers in the nation isn’t popular.
Although the Japanese government has been trying to change that situation by issuing financial incentives, the share of cashless payment in retail transactions was reported to be just under 30% in 2020, compared with 70-90% in South Korea and China.
On the other hand, the COVID19 pandemic has boosted the digital transformation of Japanese corporations. Around 400 corporations, including Nippon Gas, used Pring to pay their employees and make payments to small business owners.