Weekly Focus APAC: Singtel Takes Mobile Payment Alliance to Japan

In this edition of Weekly Focus APAC: Singtel Takes Mobile Payment Alliance to Japan; Retail Brands Tap JD.Com Data to Drive Sales; Scoot Takes Off with PayNow Support; and Walmart Opens B2B Cash & Carry Store in India.

Singtel Takes Mobile Payment Alliance to Japan

Singtel Group has expanded the footprint of its cross-border mobile payment alliance, VIA, to Japan with the addition of new member NETSTARS.

The Tokyo-based mobile payment vendor operates a network of 100,000 stores, including pushing VIA’s current community of merchant partners to 1.6 million, said Singtel.

With its participation, users of mobile wallets on VIA – which include Singtel’s Dash and AIS Global Pay – now can use their home e-wallets to pay for their purchases at NETSTARS’ merchants that are located across various locations, such as airports, shopping malls, tourist attractions, and public transportation.

They can pay in their local currency and at “competitive” foreign exchange rates in Japan as well as VIA’s wallet members in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, where Axiata Digital’s Boost mobile wallet recently joined the network.

Singtel’s International group CEO, Arthur Lang, said: “VIA’s steady expansion has taken it beyond our associate markets and, now, beyond telco e-wallets and Southeast Asia. These partnerships to grow cross-border mobile payments continue to add further momentum to Singtel’s goal of empowering consumers and enabling them to transact seamlessly across borders.”

The Singapore telco launched the alliance in October 2018 with the goal to create a region-wide payment network that allowed consumers to transact with their mobile wallets as they travelled in Asia-Pacific.

NETSTARS CEO, Tsuyoshi Ri, said the company was aiming to grow its merchant community to one million stores across Japan by end-2020. He noted that Japan in 2017 welcomed 1.8 million visitors from Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, which were part of the VIA network.

Singtel said it planned to expand the alliance to include its regional associates, such as India’s Airtel, the Philippines’ Globe, and Indonesia’s Telkomsel, as well as companies outside the telco community.

Retail Brands Tap JD.Com Data to Drive Sales

Retail and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands such as Huggies and Head & Shoulders have been able to tap data insights generated from JD.com and drive their sales on the Chinese e-commerce platform.

Tapping feedback from its database of 300 million customers, JD.com said its data analytics tools could carry out “sophisticated keyword searches” and trend analyses to help Huggies optimise its products in China and improve customer satisfaction.

The diaper brand consulted JD.com to determine why local Chinese brands, which mostly used composite material rather than wood pulp, were gaining popularity. Huggies then released a new composite material version of its diapers in China, touted to offer more comfort for longer wear.

It also introduced a 104-diaper package after analysing JD.com’s data to assess the frequency of customers’ diaper shopping trips and average daily diaper needs. This proved successful for Huggies on the e-commerce platform, JD.com said.

Shampoo brand Head & Shoulders also tapped the site’s data and saw that Chinese consumers increasingly were concerned about the environmentally friendly features and chemical composition of the products they used. Data insights revealed growing popularity of natural haircare products.

Head & Shoulders then launched an exclusive silicone-free natural shampoo offering on JD.com, the sales of which surpassed ¥10m (£1.12m) within the first four months.

Logitech in December 2018 also launched its Pebble wireless mouse, featuring a slim design and noise-reduction performance, based on JD.com’s data analysis that revealed “silent” and “slim” were the two most common search keywords.

Walmart Opens B2B Cash & Carry Store in India

The retail chain has opened its first B2B (business-to-business) Best Price Cash & Carry store in the Indian city of Karimnagar alongside the launch of a B2B e-commerce site.

Spanning over 50,000 square feet, the new outlet is the 24th Cash & Carry store and caters to small businesses such as resellers, offices, hotels, and restaurants.

It also would source directly from local and regional farmers and suppliers, said Walmart India, adding that the new store operates on sustainable features such as renewable energy and recycled water.

The company’s president and CEO, Krish Iyer, said: “With our mission of enabling small businesses to prosper, we will help our kirana/reseller members, and other business members, to efficiently manage their inventory, lower their operational costs, and pass on the savings to their customers. While growing the business, we will continue to invest in the supply chain and supplier development, focusing on the growth of small and medium manufacturers in the state, developing local clusters to source directly from farmers, and setting new benchmarks in the cash-and-carry business.

“We are simultaneously extending the B2B e-commerce platform to our members here, which will make it convenient for them to shop without stepping out of their stores”, said Iyer.

Scoot Takes Off with PayNow Support

Budget airline Scoot now offers Singapore’s interbank funds transfer service, PayNow, as a payment option when travellers book their flights via its website. This enables them to send payments using a company’s unique entity number or recipient’s mobile number or Singapore identification number.

Scoot said it partnered with local bank UOB to facilitate the payment service.

After selecting the ‘PayNow’ option at the checkout page on the airline’s website, customers will see a QR code on the screen that they could scan using the mobile banking app of a PayNow participating bank.

The payment amount and recipient fields would be automatically filled, so customers would only need to confirm the details to complete the payment.

Through UOB’s application programming interface, Scoot would receive a confirmation of the payment in real time and customers, too, would receive a notification on the payment page that their flight booking was successfully completed.

Scoot’s chief commercial officer, Vinod Kannan, said: “Scoot is thrilled to be the first airline in Singapore to allow payment via PayNow. We are always looking at ways to better serve the needs of different customers and provide them with more options. Embracing digital technologies such as PayNow to ease flight booking and payment processes is one such example.”