Square Starts Mobile Payments In Japan, Its First Country Outside Of North America, In Partnership With Visa’s Ally

Mobile payment platform Square has announced that it is now publicly available in Japan, its first country outside of North America. The iPhone is very popular in Japan, making it a potentially strong crossover market for Square, which first launched on iOS before also becoming available on Android.

The move is a bold one for Square, considering that Japan is already a mature market for mobile payments, which were pioneered there by NTT docomo and KDDI. PayPal, Square’s main rival, already has a foothold in Japan, where its partners include mobile operator Softbank. Square’s advantage there may be CEO and founder Jack Dorsey’s emphasis on the platform’s aesthetics. In fact, Dorsey stated that Square’s priority on design influenced the company’s decision to make Japan its first stop in Asia.

“I am honored to introduce Square to a country with a rich history of design, innovation and tradition. Square shares the same values and attention to detail in our products,” said Dorsey.

Square’s association with the iPhone will also help it in Japan, where Apple’s smartphone is still beating out Android devices. According to data from Kantar, iPhones make up 66% of sales there, compared to Android’s 32% share.

The company has taken a slow-and-steady approach to its international expansion, stating that it has no “specific timeline” for Square’s deployment in other countries. Its first step outside the U.S. when it launched in Canada in October. At that time, there was much speculation that Asia would be the next target in Square’s international expansion strategy.

While it’s taken its time tackling global markets, Square has recently launched several new features that shows it is growing increasingly serious about positioning its payment services as a rival to PayPal’s dominance. Earlier this week, the beta version of Square Cash, which enables payments to be sent by email, surfaced. Square also recently hired the former Google SMB of global sales and operations, Francoise Brougher, to serve as their business lead. Brougher will help Square with customer support and partnerships, in addition to growing out the company internationally.

Square has partnered with Sumitomo Mitsui Card Corporation (SMCC), the company that introduced Visa to Japan.

The Square Reader allows businesses to accept credit card payments from mobile devices for a transaction fee of 3.25% per swipe.