Singtel’s cross-border mobile wallet VIA debuts in Japan

Photo courtesy of Cross Border Payment

Singtel’s VIA, touted as Asia’s first cross-border mobile payment alliance has launched in Japan, where merchants at Haneda Airport International Terminal can now accept QR code payments from tourists on VIA.

More acceptance points across Japan due to be added in 2020 in time for the Olympics. NETSTARS is the participating network enabling payments.

VIA will expand into the rest of Tokyo and other popular tourist destinations such as Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido. Acceptance points will include convenience stores, restaurants and department stores.

The VIA alliance is the first initiative of its kind to connect both telco and non-telco mobile wallets across borders to create a region-wide payment network that will enable consumers to use their local mobile wallets at participating merchants when travelling.

The alliance which currently counts Singtel’s Dash and AIS GLOBAL Pay among its member mobile wallets enables tourists from Singapore and Thailand to shop and dine across Japan using QR code payments in their local currency at competitive exchange rates.

“This is a big step in further bridging the digital economies of Japan and Southeast Asia, facilitating travel for our customers and connecting Japanese merchants to more consumers,” said Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel’s International Group.

“Our platform allows anyone with a mobile wallet on VIA to pay — in their home currency — at key merchants in Japan,” Lang said. “We will be announcing more wallets joining the VIA alliance in the coming months.”

The adoption of VIA comes ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, giving tourists the familiarity and convenience of paying with their local mobile wallets as they enjoy the games as well as well-known tourist attractions.

The VIA alliance was launched in October 2018 and is expanding to include Thailand’s Kasikornbank’s K Plus, Axiata Digital’s Boost Malaysia and Indonesia’s LinkAja.

This will see the alliance grow to represent some 40 million mobile wallet users and 2.1 million merchants across Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. The Singtel Group plans to expand the alliance to include its other regional associates as well as non-telcos.