Chinese internet giant Tencent and Japan-based messaging company Line partnered to tap into a rising wave of Chinese tourists with plans to launch a mobile payment app in 2019 for small Japanese retailers, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Line will provide retailers which haven’t signed up to its Line Pay payment service with terminals compatible with WeChat Pay, a mobile payment service associated with Tencent’s social media arm. Line will not charge processing fees for three years to generate interest, the newspaper said.

The number of Chinese visitors to Japan tripled over the last three years.

While Japanese are still reluctant to use their phones to pay (about 80 per cent of transactions in the country are still made in cash), adoption of cashless services has skyrocketed in China, where use of credit cards is very low. Mobile payment transactions on third-party Chinese mobile platforms reached $15.4 trillion in 2017 compared with just $2 trillion in 2015, data from Beijing-based iResearch showed.

The partnership will face competition from a broad field including Paypay, which in October launched a consumer mobile payment app alongside a number of offers. The new venture is a collaboration between India-based mobile wallet company Paytm, Yahoo Japan and SoftBank, which also holds significant stakes in the other two companies.

Rakuten, a local e-commerce giant scheduled to enter the mobile space in Japan in October 2019, last month signed a deal which will see it use KDDI’s 4G network in return for helping the operator launch a payment service. KDDI will use Rakuten’s payment platform and network of around 1.2 million affiliated stores in Japan to launch its own barcode and QR payment service, called au PAY, in April 2019.

Google debuted its Android Pay service in Japan in December 2016 through a partnership with Rakuten.