Meeting the needs of Japanese and Taiwanese cardmembers in Europe

Wednesday 19 June 2024 09:43 CET | Editor: Diana Lupuleac | Interview

Ray Shinzawa, Managing Director at JCB International (Europe), talks about how JCB is crafting customised payment solutions for its Japanese and Taiwanese cardmembers in Europe.


Can you outline the current strategy JCB International is using to expand card acceptance among merchants in Europe?

At JCB, we issue cards across various countries and regions and currently serve more than 158 million cardmembers. We are strategically investing to grow our cardmember base, especially in Asia, resulting in a faster incremental base and higher usage compared to Japan, where our company originated. We are capitalising on the resurgence of post-COVID travel from Asian countries and regions, where a significant portion of our cardmembers originate, leading to increased spending throughout European regions. Concurrently, our business is experiencing growth in cross-border transactions. For instance, JCB’s ecommerce payments across our online merchants based in Europe surged by 30% in 2023 compared to 2022. This accomplishment mirrors the eagerness of our base of 158 million cardmembers to purchase products and services offered by European brands.

In Europe, achieving greater acceptance and expanding our merchant network remains a paramount objective for JCB. In addition to large corporations and retail chains, we anticipate significant growth potential among small and medium-sized merchants. Thus, we are committed to supporting them in attracting more business from our cardmember base, especially since our issuance business in Asia is also targeting middle to high-end consumers who travel frequently and spend a lot overseas. Welcoming this influx of JCB Cardmembers to the European markets by a wider network of merchants is one of our core strategies.

What are the fundamental principles of Omotenashi, and how does JCB International implement them?

The principle of Omotenashi defines Japanese hospitality and symbolises the commitment to delivering the best experience to customers. This is an approach for which we’ve become famous that ensures our acquirers, merchants, and cardmembers receive the highest standards of care, support, and protection. As an organisation within the global payments network, we prioritise Omotenashi in every decision, building lasting relationships founded on mutual respect and trust.

As the only international payments brand originating from Japan, we’re proud to offer secure and frictionless payment solutions globally. Uniting over 60 years of industry expertise, coupled with cardmember spend insights, we build partnerships that foster trust and prosperity for our business partners, team members, and the wider JCB community worldwide. Our latest brand campaign #BetterWithOmotenashi highlights the benefits to our acquiring partners and the merchant community working with JCB, reinforcing our commitment to excellence across European regions.

How does JCB International customise its products, services, and customer experiences to meet the specific requirements and preferences of Japanese and Taiwanese cardmembers residing in or travelling to Europe?

At JCB, we have payments insights that transcend product, service, and customer data. In addition, we have spending data from JCB Cardmembers that spans many countries and regions, including our key JCB Cardmember base – which are Japanese and Taiwanese – as our drivers for sales and growth. Typically, these cardmembers enjoy a series of services ranging from the JCB PLAZA, a network of premium lounges where cardmembers can relax, to concierge services, exclusive cardmember deals and perks, loyalty programmes, and the convenience of contactless payments around the world. Based on our experiences, we believe that Taiwanese cardmembers are particularly responsive to discounts, privileges, and extra services. In response to this, we have collaborated with several merchants worldwide, in line with our cardmembers’ preferences, to offer incentives to attract them. For instance, JCB Cardmembers may check our regional special offers from a dedicated page, JCB Special Offers, prior to their travels to Europe, where they can see special discounts, gifts, or priority services.

For Europe, Japanese Cardmembers accounted for over 80% of online sales in 2023, making Japan a key market for European sales. According to an Oxford Economics Report, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Britain are the ‘top 5 European destinations’ for international leisure trips for Japanese travellers, and our local branches in these European markets are actively encouraging merchants to accept JCB Cards, enabling JCB Japanese cardmembers to use their preferred payment method.

In Taiwan, we recorded a JCB Cardmember growth of 129% over the last three years. Our studies showed that many Taiwanese cardmembers are satisfied with JCB for its international focus and payment convenience. Taiwanese cardmembers now also assume European e-tailers will accept their JCB Card, therefore it’s our mission to grow the acceptance among our European merchant community.

To summarise, JCB International is committed to expanding its acceptance in Europe, especially in tourist retail destinations, to offer greater convenience to Taiwanese and other Asian cardmembers.

How does JCB International envision the future of payments in Europe, and what is the company's objective in shaping that future?

The European payments market will continue to evolve, seeking to offer enhanced value and convenience to consumers. This trend will persist with a particular focus on digital payments and innovations across new sectors. At the same time, new and updated regulations will emerge that will impact merchants, acquirers, and the payments industry for years to come. 

From a scheme perspective, the availability of JCB Contactless has increased significantly through standardised POS terminal certification in Germany and France. In the future, we will further broaden the accessibility of contactless payments across our diverse European markets. Furthermore, our 3D Secure ‘J/Secure™’ approval rates remain strong with our key acquirers, solidifying our reputation as a trusted and reliable payment solutions provider. As the payment market evolves and secure payments become increasingly important, JCB will continue its efforts to provide the latest technology and security standards.

In parallel, we are promoting the #ShowTheLogo campaign to our European merchants, who are part of a 49 million global community. Moreover, as Europe remains the world’s most popular destination for travellers, we are continuously catering to the needs of our 158 million JCB Cardmembers when travelling abroad. Looking at JCB Cardmember data, spending on international travel rose dramatically across hotel, airline, and travel agencies in 2023. We expect the momentum to continue, supported by a range of high-profile sporting events happening across Europe. We encourage merchants to ensure they are making payments as convenient as possible, including by accepting JCB Cards to accommodate the needs of the anticipated influx of tourists.

About Ray Shinzawa

Ray Shinzawa is the Managing Director of JCB International (Europe) Ltd., JCB International’s subsidiary based in London. His primary role is to oversee JCB's business expansion including acceptance coverage, business development, marketing, customer service, technical support, and partners across the region. Ray ensures that JCB's European strategy matches with JCB's long-term global strategy, balancing business growth with regulatory compliance, promoting the opportunities of working with JCB, and strengthening partner relationships.

About JCB International (Europe) Ltd.

JCB is a global payments brand and a credit card issuer and acquirer in Japan. Its acceptance network includes 49 million merchants globally. JCB issues cards across countries and regions internationally with more than 158 million cardmembers. JCB has formed alliances with banks and financial institutions globally, increasing its merchant coverage and cardmember base. JCB commits to providing responsive and high-quality service and products to customers worldwide.

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Keywords: credit card, Issuer, Acquirer, merchants, customer experience, travel payments, digital payments, regulation, contactless payments
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: JCB
Countries: Europe, Japan, Taiwan
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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