Payke mobile shopping assistant for foreign visitors in Japan raises $9 million

Image credit: Payke

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo- and Okinawa-based Payke, the Japanese startup behind a mobile shopping assistant app ( iOS / Android ) for foreign visitors to Japan under the same name, annouced last week that it has raised 1 billion yen (nearly $9M US) in its latest round. This round was led by Eight Roads Ventures Japan with participatin from SBI Investment, Okinawa Development Finance Corporation, SMBC Venture Capital, and Intage Open Innovation Fund (jointly managed by Intage Holdings and SBI Investment).

This is the third round for Payke following one in June of 2017. The total amount raised including this third round is 1.22 billion yen (around $11M US).

Founded in Naha, Okinawa in November of 2014, Payke launched the mobile app a year later. Designed for foreign visitors shopping in Japan, it can display product information in 7 languages (English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese) by simply scanning the barcode of what they want to check. Foreign visitors to Japan make up more than 95% of the app’s users, and it has been downloaded approximately 700,000 times (as of August 2018). Summed up with third party services using Payke’s multilingual product database via API, the company’s platform is now being used by 3.4 million people in 132 countries (as of September 2018).

Payke is monetizing primarily through B2B dealings for now. Their clients (mainly cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies) have the ability to customize the content introductions in multiple languages which the Payke users see when they inquire after the product, and it is also possible to see which product was inquired after and where it was on the analytics screen. Up to now, around 1,200 Japanese companies have used the service.

A “Payke Tablet” installed at Don Quixote 100AM store in Singapore
Image credit: Payke

Payke will use the funds raised this time around to focus on two main projects.

One is expanding the sales of the Payke Tablet, which has been installed in stores like Singapore’s Don Quixote (see above). One tablet is capable of providing product information in 7 languages and costs 3,800 yen (about $34 US) per month. It can be installed in the store itself. Customers can use the Payke Tablet to scan a barcode and browse the product information in the language that feels most comfortable for them. In addition to improving customer satisfaction, it saves the store the cost of labor for store clerks that speak multiple languages. Payke initially produced 1,000 Payke Tablets, but as the stock has already ran out, it will produce the next lot and introduce them to retail companies such as drug stores and supermarkets.

The other project consists of adding a function that allows foreign visitors to make a repeat purchase even after they have returned home. Since there is a record of which items the user inquired about on Payke, the company can then use that information to guide users to shop it online. Currently, Payke is testing the work flow of repeat purchase focusing on users in some areas of Southeast Asia. More information will become available when the service is launched full-scale.

Since Payke can acquire location information when a user inquires about product information, it can also distribute the information using push notifications within a specific area. Last week, when the Hokkaido Eastern Iburi EarthquakeHokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake struck, the company provided evacuation and rescue information to users in disaster affected areas free of charge in seven languages.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda