Japan’s Aeon to launch super app mobile payment in September

Aeon will consolidate its many apps into one as it aggressively markets its services in Japan’s mobile financial services sector.

Nikkei staff writers | Japan

TOKYO — Japanese retail giant Aeon will launch its mobile payment service Aeon Pay next month, as the brick-and-motor operator challenges internet retailers such as Rakuten and Line, Nikkei has learned.

Aeon aims to make its mobile payment service a super app that any retailer can use, and plans to consolidate its online shopping businesses and prepaid cards under Aeon Pay.

The company is one of the latest players in Japan’s booming mobile payment sector where internet companies are vying to create one-stop shopping solutions for varied services — from banking to travel to telephone access.

Aeon already has financial arms like Aeon Bank and credit card operator Aeon Financial Services. To use Aeon Pay, customers will be required to apply for an Aeon credit card. Payments will be made via QR codes at checkout counters.

Unlike Aeon’s prepaid Waon card, which can only be used at Aeon group outlets, Aeon Pay is designed for use at retailers outside the group.

Aeon is not the only Japanese company aiming to provide a ‘super app’ service. SoftBank Group has been aggressively promoting its PayPay app, soliciting retailers to broaden the app’s reach.

The move by Aeon signals that Japan’s fragmented e-commerce market may be coalescing like other Asian countries. Chinese e-commerce operator Alibaba and Singapore ride-hail company Grab, for example, have become dominant super apps in their markets, offering services from finance to retail and more.

Aeon operates a broad range of businesses, including large supermarkets and shopping malls, each of which has offered online services on their own, such as internet shopping, food delivery and distribution of store information. Aeon will consolidate these services under Aeon Pay from Sept 1. Customer loyalty programs operated by each retail unit will also be included.

Currently, the Aeon group has more than 50 separate apps. Aeon Pay is planned to consolidate these under one app while extending access to retailers outside the Aeon group, such as restaurants and ride-hail companies.

Aeon Pay will also give the group access to a huge pool of user data, including its 46 million membership cards and 88 million Waon prepaid cards.

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