Jewel Paymentech has forged a capital alliance with Japan’s largest payment processor, GMO Japan, which will be leading the startup’s Series A+ funding round, along with existing backer Tuas Capital Partners. The support will enable the Singaporean startup to make its entry into the highly challenging Japanese market.
Jewel CEO Sean Lam said digital payments are transforming Asia as a whole into a cashless society, so many of the challenges facing Japan are similar to those in other markets in the region — but the country is also very different and can require its own tailored version of solutions, even if those solutions succeeded in neighboring markets.
The language barrier is a significant challenge in Japan, said Lam, making local partnerships even more critical. He said Jewel is working to rewrite its software into the local language, but that is only one cultural barrier that must be crossed.
Japan has its own kind of platforms, standards, processes and methodologies in the payments world, Lam said — as well as cultural differences. For instance, fraud rates are low because it’s a low-crime culture, he said, but there are other pain points and nuances that an outside platform like Jewel would struggle to navigate. The features that are valued by customers in Singapore may not be relevant in this market, while customers in Japan may look for something that Singaporean customers didn’t consider.
For that reason, Lam said, it can be difficult to crack the Japanese market without the aid of a local partner like GMO, which can adopt Jewel’s risk intelligence solutions and roll them out to payment networks, banks and payment gateways in the country.
Lam said Jewel’s three core solutions will become available to GMO’s affiliated companies in the payments space, promoting the acceptance of ePayments in the region.
The first of these solutions is Capture, a product that powers instant onboarding to help payment facilitators get online merchants up and running through a virtual Know Your Customer (eKYC) process.
The second is One Sentry, which scours marketplaces for counterfeit and illegal products or sketchy activities like transaction laundering. That way, marketplace owners can keep their portfolios clean and create trust among their customer base.
The third is Jewel’s enterprise fraud solution providing back-end analytics and portfolio reviews for merchants to help payment networks avoid and mitigate the effects of fraud.
Lam anticipates that it will take about three months to roll out a tailored set of these solutions in Japan. Jewel will be exploring how to white label its product in this new market as well as other potential opportunities through its partnership with GMO. In the future, said Lam, the startup hopes to establish an office in Japan to continue to grow its presence there.