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Fee Free Japanese BNPL Solution Launched by Smartpay for Credit Card Users

Online payments in Japan have tripled over the last decade to $200billion, and as such, many digital companies want to expand to the region. Competing with PayPal, which bought the Japanese “Buy Now Pay Later” (BNPL) paytech, Paidy, in September, Smartpay K.K. has announced the launch of its new BNPL service, which combines an all-in-one payment experience and interest-free payment solution in one app.

Built out of a passion for enabling Japanese merchants to succeed in eCommerce, Smartpay aims to remove the anxiety of shopping online for Japanese credit card users with the first completely free and secure, seamless, fully automated, online payment experience.

The company is backed by several high-profile investors including SMBC Venture Capital (SMBC-VC) and Global Founders Capital (GFC), the largest global investor in BNPL.

A series of new BNPL innovations for consumers and merchants in Japan

Japan has an eCommerce cart abandonment rate of over 80%, which is one of the highest in the world. Smartpay aims to increase the conversion rate for Japanese merchants by removing the friction that exists between cart and order completion.

Smartpay has redefined the eCommerce payment experience by addressing Japanese consumer anxiety about interest, hidden fees, sharing personal data and the time needed to fill in online forms to complete the transaction.

Smartpay is the first free of charge BNPL payment option for Japanese consumers who have credit cards. There are no sign-up fees, interest fees, settlement fees, or late charges. The payment experience is also Japan’s first cross-merchant, cross-platform, and single-click checkout BNPL service, allowing consumers to checkout in as little as 10 seconds. The BNPL payment solution is simple to understand, structured on three equal instalments over eight weeks. This means that unlike the existing BNPL services in Japan, customers do not need to go to the convenience store to make payments or pay any bank transfer fees.

For merchants, Smartpay also addresses key cost and administration pain points by covering all payment fraud risks and managing all consumer-led chargebacks. Smartpay integration has been built to reduce merchant integration time and therefore resource cost and can be integrated onto merchant websites in one day with the highest quality SDKs and APIs. In addition, to specifically help small and medium-sized merchants, Apple Pay and Google Pay are automatically integrated into the Smartpay solution. Research shows that Smartpay will improve sales conversion for eCommerce merchants by more than 10% over a 12-month period.

Built specifically for Japan

Smartpay was co-founded by Pieterjan Vandaele (ex-Paidy) and Sam Ahmed (ex-Facebook). The Smartpay team brings together 80 years of eCommerce, fintech and payment experience specifically relevant to Japan. Brought together by a passion for the quality, precision, and creativity of Japanese merchants, as well as an understanding of the unique obstacles that Japanese merchants and consumers face with online retail, Vandaele and Ahmed formed Smartpay to unleash the potential of eCommerce in Japan.

Accelerating eCommerce in Japan

Naoya Otsubo, Smartpay Country Manager explains that “Smartpay recognises the anxiety of merchants in Japan will cause some retailers to potentially invest in the wrong areas. We believe that we can help merchants increase online sales conversions and revenue by 10-20% without having to invest in costly advertising or infrastructure builds.”

Co-founder Sam Ahmed added, “Our team has been passionate about Japan and its eCommerce journey for many years. We are seeing more consumers enjoying purchasing online and we’d like to help connect these consumers to the merchants in a more efficient manner.”

Co-founder Pieterjan Vandaele said, “We are extremely proud to have built an exciting and unique service specifically for Japan. For consumers, we focused on taking away the worries around fees, providing simplicity for signups, and delivering the smoothest user experience. For merchants, we provide an accessible service that focuses on revenue growth.”

Smartpay’s purpose is to enable all Japanese merchants to succeed in e-commerce. From December 2021, Smartpay will be providing a free eCommerce training for 10,000 Japanese merchants to learn eCommerce best practices for onsite conversion, attracting new customers and revenue expansion.


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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