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Uniqlo to add own payment feature to smartphone app

Clothing retailer aims to collect more detailed customer information

The payment function, which uses QR codes, will be accepted at almost all of Japan's roughly 800 Uniqlo stores. (Photo by Karina Nooka)

TOKYO -- The operator of Uniqlo casualwear stores will add a payment function to its smartphone app, making customer purchase histories easier to track in order to increase efficiency in planning, production and sales.

Previously, electronic payments made in stores were handled by third-party services. Fast Retailing will now process these payments at Uniqlo stores on its own.

Japan's largest mobile payment app is SoftBank Group-backed PayPay, with more than 35 million registered users. The Uniqlo app has amassed roughly 30 million downloads, so adding the payment function will make Fast Retailing the biggest retailer in the country with this service.

Fast Retailing developed the Uniqlo Pay service with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and launches it Tuesday. Bank account or credit card information will be linked to the app, which will display a QR code at the cash register to make a payment.

The payment service will work at nearly all Uniqlo stores in Japan, which number around 800. In the future, Uniqlo Pay will be accepted for online purchases and at GU stores. It will not be usable at non-Fast Retailing sites.

Smartphone payments have been allowed at Uniqlo stores for some time, but Fast Retailing did not have access to gender and age data unless the Uniqlo app was also open. Many customers did not bother opening two apps.

Fast Retailing wants to increase usage of the app, enabling it to collect more customer data. By integrating payment functions, the company hopes to also reduce time spent waiting in line.

Two-factor authentication will be employed for security and privacy when credit card and bank accounts are linked. Only bank accounts at SMBC, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Resona Holdings will be linked.

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