Chinese tourists increase after the introduction of mobile payments in Otaru City, Hokkaido, Japan

The Hokkaido transport bureau conducted a survey on the use of mobile payment services by Chinese tourists in Otaru city from September 2018 to February 2019 and recently summarized the results,Kyodo news reported.

The survey results reflect an increase in the number of Chinese tourists, while compared to cash payments, Chinese tourists are more likely to use mobile payments for consumption.

The empirical trial was conducted from September last year to February this year. The Japan Hokkaido Transport Authority provided free terminals to 47 shops and facilities in Otaru to support the mobile payment service “Alipay” and “WeChat pay”. The terminal is transferred free of charge after the end of the trial, and the remaining businesses except one shop will continue to use it.

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In a questionnaire conducted by the bureau for participating businesses, the ratio of Chinese tourists’ spending to total sales was compared between January and July 2018 before the introduction and November 2018 and February 2019 after the introduction. The answer to “30%-40%” of businesses increased from 12.5% to 37%, while the answer to “10%-20%” businesses was reduced from 78.1% to 51.9%.

During the trial period, the average payment for the per capita consumption of Chinese tourists, cash, credit cards and other payment methods was 2047 yen. In terms of mobile payments alone, the average payment is 2989 yen.

The Hokkaido Central Bus Company as one of the terminal merchants to participate in the experiment, at the end of September 2018, at Otaru Passenger Terminal to introduce a terminal. The amount spent by Chinese tourists using mobile payment terminals continued to increase between November 2018 and February 2019. “About 30 to 50 percent of Chinese tourists used mobile payment terminals during this period,” the Hokkaido central bus company said.

The “Otaru Canal Boat”, which runs a small tour boat in Otaru Canal, was previously available only in cash to cover the cost of the boat, The company said: “we have clients who are requesting cashless payments. Introduction of terminals to improve convenience.”