Japanese mobile payments processor Coiney raises $5M

From the left: Takamasa Matsumoto (software designer),
Naoko Samata (CEO/founder), and David Asikin (CTO)

See also the story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Coiney, a startup focused on providing mobile payments solutions in Japan, announced today that it has raised 500 million yen (over $5 million) from Credit Saison, one of Japanese top credit card companies.

I believe the service is definitely making its way into consumers’ daily lives.

Coiney was launched back in March of 2012 and has been providing mobile payments solutions using swipe card readers for smartphones. This, of course, puts them in the same space as Square, Paypal Here, and Rakuten Smartpay.

Earlier this year, the startup also invited ex-CyberAgent COO Shinichi Saijo to its board of directors, a significant addition to its growing family.

We had a chance to speak with the startup’s CEO Naoko Samata and asked her about how they plan to expand their business. Since our last conversation, the company has been focusing on user-safety systems and stability in rather than business expansion. We asked Naoko how they expect to compete against other big other players. She explained:

If you see mobile payments as a disruption to the cash market, the potential is huge. I think every single player will evolve the market in different ways. Of course, this business needs a certain amount of a solid financial muscle. For us, it is very important to partner with other companies leveraging our business. By joining forces with appropriate partners, we will be able to reach out to more merchants who typically use our service on a daily basis.

According to Samata, more than a few consumers use mobile payments to buy high-value products or services in Japan, which is definitely different from what we’ve being seeing in the US. She shared some of their use cases and insights.

A big volume of our users are in their 40s, and 80% of them are male users. In terms of geographical metrics, it’s about a 50/50 split between urban and rural areas, which goes against our original hypothesis that Tokyoites in their 30s would be most of our user base. The average price per transaction using the service exceeds 10,000 yen ($100), which is certainly higher than the average credit card payments. […] Our customers (merchants) include outdoor tour guides, street-side butchers, flower shops, and souvenir shops. I believe the service is definitely making its way into consumers’ daily lives.

For Coiney, this may be how they differ most from their competitors. The startup aims to be a platform for solutions around money issues rather than just a payment solutions provider. As a part of their efforts on this front, the company plans to provide its payment services APIs to partnering developers. It might be very similar to what we’ve seen around API-based payment processing services such as Stripe, Braintree, and WebPay. Naoko added:

By the end of September, we’re expecting to announce our partners who will be using the closed alpha version of our SDKs. Subsequently we’ll start providing it to partner developers. We’re ready to provide SDKs for both the iOS and Android platforms. Unlike Stripes or Braintree, what we provide is payment solutions for face-to-face purchases. That’s the focus of our business.

With these new funds, the startup expects to double its engineering and business development forces, which is currently a 15-person team. It also expects to enhance its back-end infrastructure and add new models to its card reader line up.

Let’s keep an eye on Coiney to see how it progresses from here.