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UnionPay gets personal to goose Chinese shopping in Japan

Location-based service will give travelers targeted discounts

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China's largest bank card issuer hopes to boost tourists' purchases in Japan.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- China UnionPay will join with Japanese retailers to offer Chinese tourists personalized discount coupons starting in January, hoping to get them to spend more while visiting in Japan.

China's top bank card issuer will customize the e-coupons based on age and gender, using payment activity data to identify a traveler's location. With the new service, a person visiting Kyoto, for example, will be able to receive coupons for stores there via smartphone.

Previously, Chinese travelers had to pick up paper vouchers at a travel agency or other establishment before departure. The e-coupons will be distributed through apps of UnionPay's Chinese partners, including financial institutions, travel agencies and airlines.

UnionPay will work with Sumitomo Mitsui Card and others to launch the Japanese service. It has chosen major drugstore chain Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings and duty-free shop operator Laox as initial retail partners, with plans to increase the stores that accept the coupons to 3,000 next fiscal year.

Japan is UnionPay's sixth location for the service, following Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The number of Chinese visiting Japan through late November grew 28% on the year to 5.94 million, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Although shopping by Chinese tourists has slowed, their numbers are expected to keep growing.

(Nikkei)

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