This is the abridged version from our original article in Japanese.
Tokyo-based WAmazing, the Japanese startup offering free SIM cards and tourism services to foreign visitors to Japan, announced today that it has secured funding in the latest round. Participating investors in this round were SBI Investment, Mizuho Capital, Sony Innovation Fund, Beenos, Opt Ventures and Shizuoka Capital, as well as two angel investors, Naoki Aoyagi (former Gree CFO) and Nobuhiro Ariyasu (founder of Coach United / member of Tokyo Founders Fund).
Coinciding with loans from government-backed Japan Finance Corporation along with Mizuho Bank and Shizuoka Bank, WAmazing secured a total of 1 billion yen (about $9.2 million) in funding and debt but the financial terms have not been disclosed. The company claims that the funds will be used to enhance service development and human resources.
The service packages together a SIM card, a tour guide app and information on reservations by working with smartphones. In addition to an iOS app which has been available since the launch of the service, they released an Android app back in August and expanded the locations of vending machines offering SIM cards from all three terminals at Narita Airport into Chubu Centrair Airport in central Japan, near Nagoya. The number of hotels that users can book through the app has reached 10,000 as of now.
In response to our question to Fumiko Kato, CEO of WAmazing, she told us the app had been installed 35,000 times and 12,000 SIM cards had been distributed as of the end of August. These stats are only for iOS app users and do not include that of Android users.
Kato shared their future outlook:
About 80% of visitors from Hong Kong and Taiwan, the demographics we are targeting, are using Android handsets. According to the survey we conducted among our 2,000 users, we found that about 70% of them had visited Japan at least once an year.
Since the interval between their visits to Japan is shorter than expected, we expect these repeat users to contribute more to our user growth. We aim to surpass 100,000 users by the end of next March.
The company recently added a payments function to its mobile app so that users can complete payments when booking a hotel online. Now they are planning to introduce a robot for distributing SIM cards to users at more locations, aiming to gain 80% of the market for foreign visitors using all airports across Japan within this year.
Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy