Retail group Seven & i Holdings Co aims to boost the number of users of its nanaco electronic money by starting a new corporate service. The new service will allow companies to use nanaco as gifts, a relatively uncultivated segment of the e-money market in Japan.
Target firms include financial institutions and market research companies, both of which often give presents to customers when they open new time-deposit accounts or respond to questionnaires or surveys.
Through the new service, Seven & i hopes to break the deadlock over the sluggish growth of nanaco cards and achieve its goal of issuing 10 million nanaco cards, company officials said. The number of nanaco cards issued totaled 5.9 million at the end of May.
Under the new service, user companies will send identification numbers to customers to which they hope to give nanaco e-money credit.
The customers will identify themselves on special Web sites for nanaco members and add the credit to their cards or nanaco-capable mobile handsets through terminals installed at Seven-Eleven convenience stores and other retailers.
Customers will be required to become nanaco members if they are not.
Officials said more than 50 firms have shown an interest in the service, which was offered on a trial basis in March this year.
Two or three companies in the financial and technology market research industries have agreed to use the new service as early as July, the officials said.
IY Card Service Co, a Seven & i unit, is in talks with some 10 companies, aiming to strike deals with them by the end of this year.
The gift service is expected to increase the number of nanaco card holders by hundreds of thousands at least, a senior official said.