On June 29, KDDI Corporation (“KDDI,” President: Takahashi Tanaka, Head Office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) and Rakuten, Inc. (“Rakuten,” Chairman and CEO: Hiroshi Mikitani, Head Office: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo) signed a letter of understanding for the beginning of a business collaboration focused on electronic money.
The decision to sign the letter of understanding was made in the hope that a strategic partnership centered on the Edy electronic money system operated by Rakuten will help both companies improve their electronic money infrastructures and lead to the expansion of other collaborations in business and operations in the future.
In signing the letter, the two companies have agreed to create the new “Edy | au” service. This new service represents a strategic linkup combining the checkout infrastructure owned by KDDI with Rakuten’s Edy service. This will be the first step in a drive by both companies to integrate more online and offline services, thereby providing greater convenience to au, Edy, and Rakuten customers.
For KDDI, this tie-up represents an extension of both its 3M strategy* and global strategy, which are operated as part of its “More Familiar! More Diverse value! More Global!” vision. With the 3M strategy in particular, the company aims to organically combine mobile phone networks (3G/LTE), FTTH, CATV, WiMAX, Wi-Fi, and other networks to allow customers to listen to music, watch movies, or enjoy any number of other services even while on the go.
Given the increasing importance of open-environment devices, the company hopes to meet the usability needs of customers using every kind of device and network, providing safe and convenient services to all.
Rakuten, for its part, has since the company’s founding in 1997 established a solid position in the e-commerce market, with its Internet shopping mall, “Rakuten Ichiba,” as the flagship business. Amid the accelerating integration of offline and online services, Rakuten started the Edy electronic money service on January, 2010. Under the concept of the Rakuten Ecosystem for enhancing the synergistic effect between various services on the strength of assets of the Rakuten member database, Rakuten has been enhancing business cooperation between Edy and the Rakuten Group’s other services by issuing the Rakuten Card with the Edy function, introducing settlements of purchases on Rakuten Ichiba by Edy, and offering the Rakuten Edy smartphone application integrated with Rakuten’s core applications.
The company has also worked to increase customer satisfaction by allowing Rakuten and Edy users to charge their Rakuten and Edy accounts with either Rakuten Super Points or Edy Charge Points.
The birth of a new service “Edy | au”
With the signing of the letter of understanding, the two companies have created a new service known as “Edy | au.” As part of this new service, from August 4, 2011, bitWallet, Inc. (Headquarters: Shinagawa City; President and CEO: Yoshihisa Yamada; hereafter “bitWallet”) will enable au Kantan Kessai service users the ability to choose Edy as a payment option.
With this service, customers will also be able to charge their Edy cards via“au Simple Payment Service.” In addition, those who have mobile phone contracts with au will be able to pay charged amounts for Edy cards together with their au phone bills. From September 27, 2011, an “Edy Autocharge” option allowing smartphone customers to automatically charge their Edy accounts when connected to the Internet will also be added to “au Simple Payment Service”.
Both companies expect that the usage of electronic money will increase as smartphones take hold and become more common throughout society. In addition to the provision of safe and convenient electronic money services, the two companies are currently discussing collaborative marketing, business, NFC projects, and other promotions and campaigns that might be attempted in the future.
Introduction of au Kantan Kessai to Rakuten Ichiba
This coming fall there are also currently plans to eventually introduce “au Simple Payment Service”. to Rakuten Ichiba . It is expected that as the number of devices and networks available increases, the number of opportunities customers have to make use of a variety of Internet services will increase as well. While each customer is likely to have varied needs regarding payments, it is believed that the importance of credit cards and electronic money will greatly increase. Rakuten is always looking for ways to make Rakuten Ichiba more convenient for its customers, and it hopes that the addition of “au Simple Payment Service”. as a payment option will do just that. The company will work to increase the number of users of both services.
In addition to providing new services to meet the needs of their customers in Japan, moving forward, KDDI and Rakuten plan to strike business collaboration agreements overseas, starting with Asia. The companies hope to expand their business operations through the creation of a new business collaboration model.
* The “3M” in the 3M strategy stands for Multiple users, Multiple networks, and Multiple devices.
Note: Edy is a pre-paid electronic money service managed by bitWallet of the Rakuten Group.