TOKYO -- Google launches Android Pay in Japan on Tuesday, debuting the mobile payment app in a tie-up with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten.
Google's entry soon after the October arrival of Apple Pay should propel the spread of smartphone-based payments in Japan, which Nomura Research Institute predicts will more than double in value to reach 11.3 trillion yen ($98.2 billion) in 2022.
People in Japan can download the Android Pay app starting Tuesday and use Android smartphones to make payments at any of the 470,000 convenience stores, supermarkets, drugstores, volume electronics stores, restaurants and other establishments nationwide equipped with contactless readers that support transactions involving Rakuten's Edy e-money service.
A wave of their phones will let users pay for services and settle bills for online transactions. They can register credit cards in Android Pay to recharge their Edy e-money accounts.
Google also is teaming with global credit card giant Visa for Android Pay in Japan and striking deals with other credit cards including those issued by Rakuten and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, letting consumers in Japan use multiple cards from one app. In addition, some Android phones sold in Japan will support overseas use of Android Pay.
Android Pay, which debuted in September 2015, is used currently in eight countries including the U.S., U.K., Australia and Singapore. Google collects no fee for Android Pay because the company primarily aims to get more people using Android-based smartphones.
The company teamed with Rakuten because Edy e-money possesses one of the largest bases of payment terminals in Japan. The partnership helps Google compete against Apple Pay, which can be used with the terminals for the Suica transit smart cards of East Japan Railway as well as the QuickPay transaction service of Japanese credit card company JCB and the iD service of NTT Docomo.
Rakuten sees the Google tie-up as a chance to encourage individuals to earn points buying goods online with Edy and exchanging those points for other services through the convenience of Android Pay.