Friday, May 18

Softbank and Paypal team up pushing new smartphone card reader

Masayoshi Son, richest man in Japan, with the striped tie. Make money, make money.

Softbank, a telecom and internet corporation, is teaming up with PayPal on the joint venture "PayPal Japan". The companies will each invest $12.5 million to "revolutionize digital payments in Japan" (source).

It's no surprise Hiroaki Kitano from the Softbank side will serve as the CEO of the business agreement; while revenue for PayPal is in the early billions, Softbank revenue reaches into the early trillions. Kitano is a senior vice president and director of Softbank Mobile Corp, with relevant experience from his time with Yahoo Shopping (source).

The joint venture will also push the Paypal Here credit card reader that plugs into the audio jack of a smartphone. The card reader add-on will retail for 1200 yen, or about $15. (When the card reader is released in the US, it will be free.)

After viewing the demo via the PayPal introductory page, I've become very skeptical of the whole process. I can't imagine a NYC pretzel vendor or cabbie handing the customer his smartphone to type in a tip and sign the transaction. What's stopping the $2.50 pretzel consumer from running away with a $200-$400 smartphone plus a pretzel? In Japan, I don't see this as being such a problem with such low crime rates as a result of their general family-like moral system.

Also, unless I had a special stylus signing pen, I'm pretty sure my signature on a smartphone would look like a few pixelated circles and lines. How's that going to sit with my bank that is tirelessly scanning for fraudulent charges?

Currently, Japan is a very cash-based society. I'm wondering the speed as to which something like card reader might catch on. It's strange that Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries but still largely operates outside the lines of credit.

Softbank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son hopes that in five or ten years from now, Japanese consumers won't need to carry wallets (source). As for me, I find any statement from this guy (the richest man in Japan) laughable.

The irony here is Masayoshi Son supposedly directs some of the Softbank commercials which include what are thought to be hidden messages that dishonor Japan. (Son is Korean but later naturalized as a Japanese citizen.) In a line of popular commercials, a black man has a dog for a father (which doesn't sound so crazy for a commercial plot). The black man, then, is inu no ko, which in Korea is one of the worst curse words. Given that there exists a stereotype that Koreans don't like Japanese or blacks, you may see some of the disputed evidence.

 Here another example, for obvious reasons:

When a bunch of Japanese celebrities march out of a dog's anus, it really makes you start to think...


  1. Japan has some really weird and ridiculous commercials.

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