Shochiku to Launch Smartphone Payment System

Japanese cinemas make appeal to digital generation

TOKYO — Integrated Japanese movie giant Shochiku is to launch a system that allows clients to use smartphones to pay for movie tickets in lieu of cash or credit cards.

Shochiku has negotiated deals with the country’s three biggest mobile service operators, Softbank, NTT DocoMo and KDDI, to offer the system. Users can book and pay for tickets with their phones, adding the cost to their monthly smartphone bills.

Its wholly owned subsidiary, Shochiku Multiplex Cinemas will begin introducing a beta version in October, with plans to expand to all 26 of its Movix- and Piccadilly-branded cineplexes by April 2014.

The system is primarily aimed at young people who do not have access to credit cards, but are active smartphone users. The goal is for Internet ticket sales to account for 20% – 30% percent of all Shochiku B.O.

Compared with the US and other developed markets, Japan lags in credit card use and acceptance, with many businesses still preferring cash to plastic. Smartphone use, on the other hand, is growing by leaps and bounds, especially among under-25s. According to a survey by the Impress R&D research outfit, smartphone penetration in Japan stood at 40% as of October of last year, with 10% growth in the preceding five months.

Japan is the world’s third biggest cinema market, with theatrical B.O. worth $2.4 billion in 2012. Its ticket prices are among the world’s highest at an average of $12.7 (JPY1,266) and visits per head are a lowly 1.37 per person per year.

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