Kore.ai Announces mParticle Partnership and Retail Assist Launch

Kore.ai, a conversational artificial intelligence and platform solutions company, is partnering with mParticle, provider of an AI-native customer data platform, to deliver an AI-first natural language processing (NLP)-based search engine and intelligent chatbots that personalize shopping experiences for retail customers.

The partnership will enable businesses with digital shopping interfaces to deploy NLP search assistants and intelligent chatbots powered with customer insights. Intelligent chatbots can be deployed on websites, mobile apps, and in-store kiosks to drive better personalization and improve efficiencies through natural language-based product discovery and search, placing orders and reorders, abandoned cart reminders, tracking and fulfillment of orders, pricing and promotions, returns, and self service support.

“Brands are increasingly realizing the power of personalization across the company, beyond marketing,” said mParticle Chief Product Officer Chee Chew, in a statement. “Conversational AI has made great advances in understanding what a customer says. With the full 360 customer profile data and AI data platform that mParticle brings to this partnership, we will help conversational AI get the right answer for each individual customer.”

“Digital marketplaces are discovering the transformative power of conversational AI in enhancing the shopping experience through personalized customer interactions and product recommendations,” said Kore.ai CEO and Founder Raj Koneru in a statement. “We are thrilled that Kore.ai and mParticle are joining forces to deliver personalized digital and voice chatbots that will provide an exceptional shopping experience to all customers, no matter their channel of choice.”

“Personalization can benefit consumers by helping them select the most suitable products, verify compatibility, and access coupons to drive loyalty leading to improved customer experience, increased revenue and reduced returns,” said Gopinath Polavarapu, Kore.ai’s senior vice president and general manager, in a statement. “mParticle plays a crucial role by providing one of the most comprehensive and efficient platforms for aggregating and managing customer data based on factors such as demographics, spending profiles, preferences and transaction histories. This partnership will help to enable personalized shopping experiences at scale, from search to purchase, and coupon redemption to returns.”

Kore.ai is also launching RetailAssist, a conversational commerce assistant solution for the retail industry. RetailAssist enables retail and ecommerce companies to modernize, scale, and transform operations by building competencies around self-service automation, personalization, omnichannel fulfillment, and 24/7 pre-/post-sales service and support. The solution also acts as an employee intelligent virtual assistant to help retailers with onboarding, day-to-day operations, and customer support.

The Kore.ai RetailAssist solution leverages language models like GPT-3, the technology behind ChatGPT, to help customers find the right products, get self-service support, check product compatibility, get the order status, returns, manage appointments in web and mobile apps and provide recommendations to customers based on their spend profile, demographics, geography, inventory availability, web and social profiles.

RetailAssist smart contact center automation helps automate voice and digital interactions for self-service and live assisted customer support operations in stores and contact centers while helping agents with their own intelligent virtual assistant for suggested responses, next-best actions, action fulfillment, and post-interaction wrap summaries.

The RetailAssist employee assistant is an AI-chatbot that informs workers about everything happening in the store, whether it is customers waiting on curbside, someone looking for help from an expert in the store, as well as enabling upselling and cross selling of products and services. It is also pre-trained to handle employees’ HR, administrative, IT, and operations-related queries and comes with out-of-the-box integrations with many retail enterprise applications.

“Personalization for web and mobile apps should be a top priority to transform online shopping experiences,” Polavarapu said. “Kore.ai has built an intelligent AI-native chatbot that allows consumers to search and discover products while simultaneously asking intricate questions to personalize the right products and services based on their customer profile, inventory status and promotions.”

“RetailAssist is one of the most comprehensive offerings, bringing together competencies that enable our retail clients to innovate and scale their digital self service use cases faster,” Koneru said. “With the ability to offer conversational intelligent virtual assistants that support the customer journey from start to finish, the solution empowers retailers to tap into the AI-powered conversational commerce today.”

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New Orleans RTA forms new partnership with Transit app

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has formed a new partnership with Transit app for riders to easily navigate public transit in more than 300 cities worldwide. RTA joins transit systems worldwide that use Transit app for riders to plan, track and pay for their trips without downloading a new app while traveling.

Through this partnership with Transit, a single sign-in enables a seamless multimodal experience. RTA riders only need to enter their payment information once to purchase rides across multiple modes and services – in New Orleans and other cities across the country.

In addition to RTA’s official app, Le Pass, riders can now also purchase tickets in the Transit app by using the “Buy ticket” button at the bottom of their screen. Users can create an account and enter their credit card information to purchase a ticket. When boarding, riders display the activated pass to their driver for visual validation.

The new Transit app partnership continues RTA’s commitment to making riding transit in New Orleans a world-class transit experience for locals and visitor alike.

The Transit app is available free of charge and can be downloaded through the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

Synopsys and Arm Strengthen Partnership to Advance Next-Gen Mobile SoCs for Arm’s Total Compute Solutions

Synopsys Design, Verification and IP Solutions Maximize Performance and Energy Efficiency for New Arm Cortex CPUs and Latest-Generation Arm GPUs

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Enabling mutual customers to deliver specialized compute, high performance and high efficiency for mobile applications including laptops, smartphones, gaming and augmented/virtual reality, Synopsys, Inc. (Nasdaq: SNPS) today announced that its design, verification and IP solutions are optimized to deliver maximum performance-per-watt for the latest Arm®v9 architecture-based SoCs. Synopsys’ leading EDA and IP solutions combined with the new Arm Immortalis™ and Mali™ GPUs and Arm Cortex®-A and Cortex-X CPUs address the specialized processing demands of high-performance computing applications, complementing the Arm Total Compute Solutions approach to SoC design. Early adopters of the new cores have successfully taped out multiple SoCs, achieving optimum power, performance and area (PPA) targets using Synopsys’ solutions.

“The growing demand for specialized processing, enhanced security and AI capabilities is driving demand for Armv9 architecture-based processors,” said Paul Williamson, SVP and GM, Client Line of Business, Arm. “The long-standing collaboration between Synopsys and Arm provides the foundation for our mutual customers to confidently develop next-generation mobile applications with sustained high performance and high efficiency required to deliver the ultimate user experiences.”

Building on more than three decades of deep ecosystem collaboration, Synopsys and Arm continue to deepen and broaden collaboration activities, aligned with the principles of Arm Total Compute, to accelerate time-to-market through highly optimized and silicon-ready system design and implementation solutions. Synopsys QuickStart Implementation Kits (QIKs), tuned to extract maximum entitlement from the latest 5, 4 and 3nm process technologies, provide the most efficient path to realizing optimally scaled compute architectures for the most demanding end-user applications.

“The principles of Arm’s Total Compute strategy are built on a solutions-focused approach to deliver optimized SoC designs, which aligns with Synopsys’ end-to-end design, verification and IP solutions that enable design teams to achieve optimal PPA goals,” said Sanjay Bali, vice president of Marketing and Strategy for the Silicon Realization Group at Synopsys. “As we continue deepening our relationship, we are together addressing the need for secure, specialized processing to optimize the digital experience on next-generation devices.”

Supporting Synopsys Technologies

Key Synopsys technologies supporting the new Cortex-A715, Cortex-A510 and Cortex-X3 CPUs and Immortalis-G715, Mali-G715 and Mali-G615 gaming-optimized GPUs include:

  • The Synopsys Digital Design Family, consisting of technology-fused products with shared best-in-class engines to provide a framework to achieve optimum PPA for Arm-based designs across all leading technology processes. Synopsys RTL Architect, Synopsys Fusion Compiler™, Synopsys DSO.ai™ and Synopsys Tweaker™ ECO products accelerate the development, implementation and signoff of power-optimized architectures for Arm cores. The family also includes Synopsys Silicon Lifecycle Management optimization software, which quickly finds the best configurations to maximize performance of the new Arm cores.
  • The Synopsys Verification Family, which speeds software development, verification throughput and time-to-market for Arm-based designs. Early adopters of the latest Armv9 architecture are using the Synopsys Verification Family of products, including virtual prototyping with Arm Fast Models, simulation, hardware and software debug, verification IP for the latest Arm AMBA® interconnect, emulation and prototyping hardware to accelerate hardware-software bring-up and power and performance validation, resulting in shorter time-to-market.
  • The silicon-proven Synopsys Interface IP products, which deliver the required performance, power efficiency, security and real-time connectivity for systems implementing the latest Arm processor cores. The broad Synopsys IP portfolio, consisting of controllers and PHYs, supports the latest protocols optimized for the rapid development of Arm-based SoCs.


Synopsys QuickStart Implementation Kits (QIKs) include implementation scripts and reference guides that enable early adopters of the newest Armv9 cores to accelerate time-to-market and achieve their demanding performance-per-Watt targets. These QIKs are available today by request through the Arm support hub or from Synopsys SolvNet.

About Synopsys

Synopsys, Inc. (Nasdaq: SNPS) is the Silicon to Software™ partner for innovative companies developing the electronic products and software applications we rely on every day. As an S&P 500 company, Synopsys has a long history of being a global leader in electronic design automation (EDA) and semiconductor IP and offers the industry’s broadest portfolio of application security testing tools and services. Whether you’re a system-on-chip (SoC) designer creating advanced semiconductors, or a software developer writing more secure, high-quality code, Synopsys has the solutions needed to deliver innovative products. Learn more at www.synopsys.com

Editorial Contact:   
Simone Souza 
Synopsys, Inc. 
[email protected] 

SOURCE Synopsys, Inc.

Apple-Kia partnership not dead yet, report claims

Though Hyundai and Kia in February confirmed they were no longer in talks to create an “Apple Car” for Apple, a report on Friday suggests there might still be hope for a partnership between the companies.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Korean outlet Chosun Biz, via Reuters, reports Apple last year inked a memorandum of understanding with Kia to cooperate on projects spanning eight different sectors.

Hyundai in January said it was discussing a deal that would see Kia manufacture a so-called “Apple Car,” but quickly walked back the statement after it caused a media firestorm. Electric vehicles, one of the categories covered in the MOU, was thought to be out of the picture after the automaker confirmed it was no longer in talks with Apple.

According to today’s report, however, negotiations regarding a vehicle partnership have not been fully abandoned. Further, Kia has other opportunities should the electric car plans fall through, sources said.

“Even if the negotiations on electric vehicles fail, there are many items that can be negotiated in other fields, so we are still optimistic about the possibility of partnership between the two sides,” the person said.

The report goes on to say that Apple and Kia are discussing “last mile” mobility, a segment focused on the final leg of travel between one means of transportation and a destination. Electric scooters and rental bikes fall squarely into that arena.

Today’s report comes about a week after the South Korean government said it would investigate whether Hyundai executives profited from the company’s premature disclosure of “Apple Car” negotiations, news of which goosed the company’s stock. Kia shares rose again today after the Chosun report was published.

Apple’s autonomous car project is at this point an open secret. Specifics are unknown, but the company is widely rumored to be seeking an established manufacturer to produce its vision of a consumer electric vehicle.

Aurora Mobile Enters into Partnership with New Energy Vehicle provider Dongfeng Motor to Strengthen AI-based Smart Mobility Services Nasdaq:JG

SHENZHEN, China, Dec. 31, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Aurora Mobile Limited (NASDAQ: JG) (“Aurora Mobile” or the “Company”), a leading mobile developer service provider in China, today announced that it has entered into a partnership agreement with new energy vehicle provider Dongfeng Motor Group Company Limited (“Dongfeng Motor”), to help DFGO, a comprehensive one-stop mobility service platform of Dongfeng Motor, to improve operational and service efficiency and optimize user experience in smart mobility.

As a part of Dongfeng Motor’s strategic transformation, DFGO is committed to becoming a leading service provider of smart mobility solutions to deeply and perfectly embed mobility services into smart city development. Currently, DFGO covers various services including online car-hailing, premium car hailing, timeshare car leasing, taxi-hailing, used-car transaction services and electric vehicle charging. Going forward, DFGO will continue to upgrade its products and technologies to actively participate in smart city development including connecting its platform with urban transportation systems and providing comprehensive city-wide mobility solutions by expanding its service coverage to bike sharing, bus services, hitch riding and intercity vehicle services.

Through the partnership, Aurora Mobile will use its artificial intelligent (AI)- empowered targeted push notification services and machine learning-based powerful operational analysis capabilities to help DFGO gain comprehensive insights into user needs, improve user experience by providing users with safe, convenient, pleasant and smart mobility services, and ultimately maximize customer value. Both parties are confident that this cooperation will lead to more growth opportunities in the smart mobility sector going forward. This is the fourth major win for Aurora Mobile in the new energy vehicle/mobility sector after the global leading new energy vehicle manufacturer, WM Motor and Niu Technologies. This demonstrates the leading and dominant position Aurora Mobile commands in serving the new energy vehicle/mobility sector.

Aurora Mobile is a leading mobile development service provider in China. In almost a decade, Aurora Mobile has focused on mobile developers’ needs and launched a series of products to help developers improve operational efficiency, drive business growth and monetization. As of September 2020, Aurora Mobile had provided software development kits to over 1.65 million APPs. Recently, Aurora Mobile launched a Unification Messages System (“JG UMS”), which has integrated seven major messaging channels, including mobile Apps, WeChat official accounts, WeChat mini-programs, Short Message Service, emails, Fuwu Alipay and DingTalk, and enables businesses to reach targeted customers more efficiently through one integrated messaging platform.

About Aurora Mobile Limited

Founded in 2011, Aurora Mobile is a leading mobile developer service provider in China. Aurora Mobile is committed to providing efficient and stable push notification, one-click verification, and APP traffic monetization services to help developers improve operational efficiency, grow and monetize. Meanwhile, Aurora Mobile’s vertical applications have expanded to market intelligence, financial risk management, and location-based intelligence, empowering various industries to improve productivity and optimize decision-making.

Safe Harbor Statement

This announcement contains forward-looking statements. These statements are made under the “safe harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “will,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “future,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates,” “confident” and similar statements. Among other things, the Business Outlook and quotations from management in this announcement, as well as Aurora Mobile’s strategic and operational plans, contain forward-looking statements. Aurora Mobile may also make written or oral forward-looking statements in its periodic reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in its annual report to shareholders, in press releases and other written materials and in oral statements made by its officers, directors or employees to third parties. Statements that are not historical facts, including but not limited to statements about Aurora Mobile’s beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement, including but not limited to the following: Aurora Mobile’s strategies; Aurora Mobile’s future business development, financial condition and results of operations; Aurora Mobile’s ability to attract and retain customers; its ability to develop and effectively market data solutions, and penetrate the existing market for developer services; its ability to transition to the new advertising-driven SaaS-model; its ability maintain or enhance its brand; the competition with current or future competitors; its ability to continue to gain access to mobile data in the future; the laws and regulations relating to data privacy and protection; general economic and business conditions globally and in China and assumptions underlying or related to any of the foregoing. Further information regarding these and other risks is included in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All information provided in this press release and in the attachments is as of the date of the press release, and Aurora Mobile undertakes no duty to update such information, except as required under applicable law.

For general inquiry, please contact:

Aurora Mobile Limited
E-mail: [email protected]

In China
Mr. Eric Yuan
Phone: +86-10-5900-1548
E-mail: [email protected]

Ms. Linda Bergkamp
Phone: +1-480-614-3004
Email: [email protected]

OMNIQ Announces Partnership with Check Point Software Technologies on “ZoneAlarm” Cyber Security Solution Other OTC:OMQS

  • OMNIQ to offer Check Point’s ZoneAlarm mobile device security software to its Fortune 500 customers to cyber secure OMNIQ’s supply chain mobility solutions 

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 29, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — OMNIQ Corp. (OTCQB: OMQS) (“OMNIQ” or “the Company”), a provider of Supply Chain and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based solutions, today announced a partnership with Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) (“Check Point”), a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally, to offer Check Point’s ZoneAlarm security software in tandem with OMNIQ’s supply chain mobility solutions for its multi-industry customer base, including Fortune 500 companies.

Check Point is the largest pure-play cyber security vendor globally and provides leading-edge solutions to protect cloud, network and mobile device-held information of government and corporate enterprise customers from all types of cyber threats. With an industry-leading catch rate of malware, ransomware and other types of malicious attacks, its solutions include ZoneAlarm Mobile Security, a complete security solution for mobile devices that uses advanced enterprise-grade technology to protect tablets and smartphones from sophisticated cyber attacks.

OMNIQ’s suite of supply chain mobility solutions, which includes rugged handheld mobile computers, tablets, barcode readers and printers with fast and dependable wireless connection, enable quick and accurate data collection, tracking, processing and analysis for critical business functions, such as shipping and receiving and inventory and warehouse management. The inclusion of ZoneAlarm security software to OMNIQ’s solutions adds multiple layers of data protection for OMNIQ’s supply chain customers, through a powerful antivirus and firewall, anti-ransomware and anti-phishing capabilities, and multi-device compatibility for Android and iOS devices.

“We are delighted to join forces with OMNIQ and provide data security to their strong customer base,” said Dror Levy, Head of Consumer Sales at Check Point. “Check Point’s mission is to make critical data secure and reliable. We are pleased to offer OMNIQ’s customers a layer of protection against cyber attacks.”

“We are honored to partner with Check Point, the world leader in cyber security, in offering vital data security features to our existing Fortune 500 customers, as well as to new customers who are interested in our state-of-the-art mobile supply chain equipment now featuring the leading cyber security solution,” said Shai Lustgarten, CEO of OMNIQ. “Cyber security is a crucial consideration for all organizations. OMNIQ supplies to some of the largest organizations in the U.S. with thousands of sophisticated powerful tablets, and integrating ZoneAlarm protection with our equipment adds an essential feature to ensure more secure operations for our customers.”

About OMNIQ Corp.
OMNIQ Corp. (OTCQB: OMQS) provides computerized and machine vision image processing solutions that use patented and proprietary AI technology to deliver data collection, real-time surveillance and monitoring for supply chain management, homeland security, public safety, traffic & parking management and access control applications. The technology and services provided by the Company help clients move people, assets and data safely and securely through airports, warehouses, schools, national borders, and many other applications and environments.

OMNIQ’s customers include government agencies and leading Fortune 500 companies from several sectors, including manufacturing, retail, distribution, food and beverage, transportation and logistics, healthcare, and oil, gas, and chemicals. Since 2014, annual revenues have grown to more than $50 million from clients in the USA and abroad.

The Company currently addresses several billion-dollar markets, including the Global Safe City market, forecast to grow to $29 billion by 2022, and the Ticketless Safe Parking market, forecast to grow to $5.2 billion by 2023. For more information, visit www.omniq.com.

Information about Forward-Looking Statements

“Safe Harbor” Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements in this press release relating to plans, strategies, economic performance and trends, projections of results of specific activities or investments, and other statements that are not descriptions of historical facts may be forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

This release contains “forward-looking statements” that include information relating to future events and future financial and operating performance. The words “anticipate”, “may,” “would,” “will,” “expect,” “estimate,” “can,” “believe,” “potential” and similar expressions and variations thereof are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which that performance or those results will be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time they are made and/or management’s good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to: fluctuations in demand for the Company’s products particularly during the current health crisis , the introduction of new products, the Company’s ability to maintain customer and strategic business relationships, the impact of competitive products and pricing, growth in targeted markets, the adequacy of the Company’s liquidity and financial strength to support its growth, the Company’s ability to manage credit and debt structures from vendors, debt holders and secured lenders, the Company’s ability to successfully integrate its acquisitions, and other information that may be detailed from time-to-time in OMNIQ Corp.’s filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Examples of such forward looking statements in this release include, among others, statements regarding revenue growth, driving sales, operational and financial initiatives, cost reduction and profitability, and simplification of operations. For a more detailed description of the risk factors and uncertainties affecting OMNIQ Corp., please refer to the Company’s recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings, which are available at http://www.sec.gov. OMNIQ Corp. undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless otherwise required by law.

Investor Contact:
[email protected]

James Carbonara
Hayden IR
[email protected]

Brett Maas
Hayden IR
(646) 536-7331
[email protected]

Apple expands partnership with RED to combat HIV/AIDS and COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Apple is offering more ways than ever for customers to support (RED)’s fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa while simultaneously protecting those communities from COVID-19.

In 2006, Apple joined (RED)’s mission to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last 14 years, Apple’s partnership with (RED) has led to almost $250 million in donations for the Global Fund’s HIV/AIDS programs that offer prevention, testing, and counseling services. Since 2006, Apple-supported grants have provided over 10.8 million people with care and support services, helped with distribution of more than 167 million HIV tests, and provided 13.8 million people with ongoing access to life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

This year, communities around the world are grappling with HIV/AIDS as they also work to respond and protect against COVID-19, particularly for vulnerable populations. COVID-19 has created challenges in accessing care, diagnostics, and supplies, often disrupting crucial HIV/AIDS programs. To alleviate these challenges and ensure continuity in life-saving HIV/AIDS services, Apple’s contributions were redirected to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response at the onset of the pandemic earlier this year. Thanks in part to support from Apple and Apple customers, the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response has been able to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on the communities most affected by HIV/AIDS and provide critical support in health systems threatened by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Japan’s Transport, E-Commerce Partnership on the Fast Track

The Japanese transportation industry is leading the country’s long-standing efforts to go cashless. Earlier this month, two major players from the archipelago’s e-commerce and transport industries partnered up to simplify and promote payments that do not require hard cash.

Homegrown e-commerce giant Rakuten plans to incorporate its services into Japan’s premier railway firm, the East Japan Railway Company or JR East to provide electronic support for its “Suica” cards.

The cards are used to access trains as well as to pay for goods and services at certain kiosks in train stations and select stores around the country. If all goes as planned, users will be able to charge their transit cards using the Rakuten Pay mobile app by 2020.

There are some 5,000 train stations and approximately 50,000 buses in Japan, according to the government data. Currently, Rakuten Pay is used in more than 600,000 stores in Japan.

In a country with strong cultural affinity toward bills and coins, the latest move could bring about a huge change to the daily routine of Japanese commuters and possibly contribute to the country’s push towards the use of cashless payment systems.

Cash is king

The latest data from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) shows only 20% of the country’s population make a payment through cashless methods — a behavior Tokyo has actively been trying to change.

Back in March 2017, METI launched the “Cashless Vision” campaign to encourage its citizens to go try digital payments.

Two years after that, the Japanese government also published an updated copy of its Abenomics policy, named after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which reiterates the country’s goal of achieving a cashless payment rate of 40% by 2027. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The main reason for this campaign comes down to the reluctance of the Japanese people to move away from using cash in their day-to-day transactions. Takeshi Tashiro, a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Cointelegraph a number of socioeconomic factors have perpetuated the Japanese affinity of using cash.

“Japan’s cashless payment ratio is approximately 20%. Some of the reasons are high reliability of cash, low theft and high security; as well as easy access to cash. Deflation might contribute to this trend as that increases the value of cash.”

Another contributing factor is Japan’s aging population. Over the past 40 years, the number of Japanese people over the age of 65 has nearly quadrupled.

“For more than two decades, Japan has had a ‘graying population’ due to both long-life spans and low birth-rates,” a former United Nations official in Japan who asked to remain anonymous remarked in an interview with Cointelegraph. “Consequently, the elderly population tends to stick to the old habit of using cash; a habit learned from a time before cash cards, ATMs and credit credits were issued in the late 1980s.”

Population Makeup in Japan

The convergence of these factors, namely low crime, deflation, and an older population that are content to continue using cash have left the country lagging behind others that are quickly adopting a variety of digital payment options.

The partnership between Rakuten and JR East could be an important catalyst in the adoption of an intangible payment system and break down the cultural apathy toward it.

Topping up Suica cards with crypto?

In March, a number of publications speculated Rakuten Pay would consider incorporating cryptocurrency support on its mobile app.

Given the newly announced partnership with JR East, this could mean that Japanese commuters might be able to use cryptocurrency to top up their Suica cards from next year.

Rakuten Payment CEO Koichi Nakamura told Cointelegraph Japan last week that it could not elaborate on the incorporation of cryptocurrencies as a payment option but conceded the company had reached a point where a final decision needed to be made.

“At this very moment, there is nothing we can share with you as to crypto payments,” Nakamura replied to an inquiry from Cointelegraph Japan, right after the press conference in which its collaboration with JR East was announced.

“But now we are in a phase where we consider whether or not we can use cryptocurrency as a source of payments,” he continued.

The CEO highlighted two important considerations that would ultimately decide whether the company would include cryptocurrency support for the Rakuten Pay app:

“First and most importantly, the crypto related service has to be safe. It has to comply with proper regulatory frameworks. Second, it shouldn’t be difficult for users to use. We aim for familiarity, convenience and comfort. I don’t want that to be too difficult to handle from the beginning. You know there are still some people who think that smartphone payments are too difficult to use.”

Rakuten is widely considered as the Japanese equivalent of Amazon, and its partnership with JR East would likely affect almost all Japanese commuters and online shoppers. Based on data from Statista, Japan’s railways serviced more than 70% of the country’s total passenger transport volume in 2016.

The e-commerce giant’s position as a leader in its field gives it hefty clout in promoting the use of cryptocurrency as well. It is one of the latest companies to receive a license to operate a cryptocurrency exchange by Japan’s Financial Services Authority.

Late March, the company announced it would launch its exchange, dubbed Rakuten Wallet, this month with account applications having opened in April. Rakuten had acquired the service formerly known as Everybody’s Bitcoin in August last year for just over $2 million.

How does Japan stack up to its cashless promoting neighbors?

The strong cash dependency in Japan is in stark contrast to other countries in the region, especially its closest neighbors.

Cashless Payment Usage in Northeast Asia

In recent years, South Korea has become a major hub for cryptocurrency trading, despite its government taking a tough stance toward the sector. The country has become famous for the “Kimchi Premium,” referring to the fact that traders pay a much higher price for bitcoin compared to the price of the cryptocurrency on exchanges in other countries.

Even in the midst of a bleak cryptocurrency market over the past 18 months, a report suggested South Koreans were buying more digital currency in April 2019 than in previous years. The country’s central bank survey revealed cash payments only accounted for 20% of payments made in the peninsula last year.

In his correspondence with Cointelegraph, Tashiro argued South Korea’s advantage in this regard is mainly down to government policies that have promoted the use of alternative payment methods, in addition to the more widespread opinion of South Koreans’ appetite for the fast adoption of new technology.

“Korea has one of the world’s most widely used cashless payment systems, with its cashless payment ratio exceeding 90%. This is because, as a national policy, credit card settlement was promoted under the guidance of the national government, including deductions of 20% of the amount of income used by credit cards and obliging stores to use credit cards.”

China is also on track to becoming a cashless society. This is largely due to the presence of two of the world’s biggest companies, Tencent and Alibaba. The two tech giants enjoy a near monopoly on the country’s messaging and payment applications, respectively dubbed WeChat Pay and Alipay.

By 2017, there were media reports that nearly three quarters of Chinese people were using digital payment methods over cash. Just to indicate how popular WeChat Pay had become, data from an Ipsos survey in the same year showed it had become the leading smartphone application for Chinese consumers to make payments with over 1 billion active monthly users.

China’s mobile transactions were far higher than that of the United States in 2017, thanks to its 1.4 billion citizens. Last year, the U.S. population was recorded at 327.2 million.

By virtue of the sheer number of users in China, WeChat Pay and Alipay have expedited the country’s transition from cash to digital payments, bypassing checks and credit cards.

Private sector as the key to Japan’s move away from cash

Tokyo is making concerted efforts to encourage the development of new cashless payment services and their adoption by general consumers.

Ahead of the new sales tax increase this October, the Japanese government is taking steps to stimulate consumer spending. One of these steps is the provision of reward points of up to five percent on purchases made with cashless payments at small and medium-sized businesses. The incentive will be in effect for nine months to encourage Japanese consumers to try out the various cashless payment options available.

The partnership between two household names in Japan could give a major boost to the government’s continued efforts to encourage its aging population to try new payment methods. Combined with the Japanese regulatory body’s active involvement in cryptocurrency trade, 2019 might be the year when old habits finally give way to the change of times.

Hisashi Oki, Managing Editor at Cointelegraph Japan contributed to this article

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