JCB: An in-depth guide

  1. Introduktion
  2. How does JCB work?
    1. JCB Standard Card
    2. JCB Gold Card
    3. JCB Platinum Card
  3. Where is JCB used?
  4. Who uses JCB?
  5. Benefits of accepting JCB
  6. JCB’s security measures
  7. How to accept JCB payments
  8. Alternatives to JCB

Japan Credit Bureau (JCB) is a credit card company headquartered in Tokyo. As Japan’s first credit card issuer, JCB was founded in 1961 when the concept of credit cards was still relatively new to the country. The company has since become a prominent global payment brand, beginning its expansion in the 1980s with a series of alliances with financial institutions worldwide. JCB cards are issued in 24 countries and territories, with a major presence in Asian countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan.

In addition to issuing credit cards, JCB manages payment processing and provides merchant services, handling behind-the-scenes aspects of credit card transactions like authorization, billing, and settlement services. JCB is known for its wide network, encompassing 46 million businesses globally. Its reach now extends across more than 190 countries and territories.

JCB has introduced technologies such as EMV chip cards, contactless payment systems, and mobile payment solutions in Japan, enabling it to grow from a domestic business into a major global payment brand.

We’ll cover what businesses should know about JCB’s key features, primary users, and how it works.

What’s in this article?

  • How does JCB work?
  • Where is JCB used?
  • Who uses JCB?
  • Benefits of accepting JCB
  • JCB’s security measures
  • How to accept JCB payments
  • Alternatives to JCB

How does JCB work?

JCB operates both as a credit card issuer and as a payment network. As a payment network, JCB processes transactions by validating transaction data, checking the cardholder’s available credit, and authorizing the payment, often within seconds. As a credit card issuer, it has three main tiers of credit card, each with varying credit limit ranges and associated perks. Individual credit limits are determined based on income, credit score, employment history, and other financial indicators. Credit limits are periodically reviewed and can be adjusted if there are changes in the cardholder’s financial status or credit history. JCB’s three tiers of credit cards are outlined below.

During a transaction, JCB validates the transaction data, checks the cardholder’s available credit, and authorizes the payment. This is done swiftly, often within seconds.

JCB Standard Card

The JCB Standard Card is ideal for everyday expenses like grocery shopping, dining out, or small online purchases. It typically comes with a credit limit of ¥500,000 to ¥1,000,000, but this can vary based on the individual’s finances. By using this card, cardholders may earn reward points on purchases that they can later redeem for various products or services. This card also sometimes grants access to discounts or special offers at partner businesses, making it an appealing option for regular shoppers.

JCB Gold Card

The JCB Gold Card is aimed at individuals with higher incomes or those who spend more on their credit cards. It generally comes with a higher credit limit than the Standard Card, accommodating bigger expenditures. The Gold Card comes with comprehensive coverage for travel-related incidents and complimentary access to JCB’s partner airport lounges worldwide. The rewards program for Gold Cards also accumulates more points per spend compared to the Standard Card.

JCB Platinum Card

JCB’s Platinum Card is its top-tier card, catering to affluent clients who require premium services. These cards have the highest credit limits of JCB’s three tiers, often above ¥1,000,000 and catering to large-scale spending needs. These cards come with personalized assistance for services including travel bookings, event tickets, and other bespoke requests, and even more comprehensive travel coverage than the Gold Card, including higher claim limits and additional protections. Platinum Cards also typically come with privileges at high-end hotels, such as room upgrades, late check-outs, and exclusive amenities.

Where is JCB used?

JCB’s usage is widespread and varies by region, with a particularly strong presence in Asian markets. In regions where digital and cashless payments are on the rise, JCB’s investment in technology is a competitive advantage; in more mature markets, JCB often strategically caters to specific segments to find its customer base. JCB’s widespread usage reflects both its global expansion strategy and its ability to adapt to varying market conditions, consumer behaviors, and regulatory environments. JCB’s key markets are outlined below:

  • Japan
    JCB is extensively used across Japan, its home market. The Japanese market is characterized by high consumer trust in credit transactions and a preference for secure, technology-driven payment solutions like JCB, known for innovations in areas such as contactless payments and mobile technology.

  • China, South Korea, and Taiwan
    JCB cards have gained popularity in China, South Korea, and Taiwan, which all share Japan’s technological affinity and growing acceptance of credit payments.

  • Southeast Asia
    In countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, JCB has tapped into the growing middle class and the cultural shift from cash to card payments. These markets are witnessing a surge in consumer spending and a government push toward a cashless society, both of which have allowed the credit card market to flourish.

  • Europe and North America
    JCB’s presence in Europe and North America is notable, though not as dominant as in Asian markets. Businesses in these regions often accept JCB payments as part of a strategy to attract tourists and business travelers from Asia, a significant and growing demographic.

Who uses JCB?

JCB caters to a diverse range of users spanning different geographic regions, business sectors, and customer segments, including:

  • Japanese customers
    JCB is extremely popular among Japanese residents due to its strong domestic presence. It’s often the preferred choice for daily transactions like shopping, dining, and travel within Japan. JCB has a range of card options tailored to the different spending habits and income levels in Japan to serve the widest possible range of domestic users.

  • Travelers in Japan
    Tourists visiting Japan often use JCB cards both due to their widespread acceptance across the country and their travel-related perks like access to JCB Plaza lounges and discounts at partner establishments.

  • Asia-Pacific region customers
    In countries such as China, South Korea, and Thailand, JCB cards are gaining popularity and are often used for regional travel and online shopping on Japanese ecommerce sites.

  • High-net-worth customers
    JCB also serves a niche market of high-net-worth customers in Japan and select Asian countries. Their premium cards and associated exclusive benefits are typically used by these customers for luxury purchases and elite travel experiences.

  • Online shoppers
    JCB cards are increasingly being used for ecommerce transactions both within Japan and internationally. JCB’s digital security features and partnerships with major ecommerce platforms make it a convenient option for online shoppers.

  • Fintech customers
    JCB collaborates with various fintech businesses and reaches their young, tech-savvy customer base as a result, who appreciate JCB’s digital payment solutions and emphasis on innovation.

  • Japanese businesses
    Large Japanese businesses often use JCB cards for corporate expenses due to their extensive local network and business-specific credit solutions. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs in Japan often use JCB due to its flexible credit options and business support services including expense management tools and small business loans.

  • International businesses
    International businesses, especially those with a local presence or partners in Japan, often use JCB cards for cross-border transactions, trade with Japanese businesses, and business travel to Japan.

Benefits of accepting JCB

Businesses that accept JCB may see the following benefits:

  • Access to Japanese customer base
    JCB processes a large proportion of credit card transactions in Japan. JCB’s brand recognition and loyal customer base makes it a necessary payment option for both domestic and foreign businesses with operations in Japan. Foreign businesses in particular may find that accepting JCB helps them gain trust and increase sales in the Japanese market.

  • Access to Asian tourist market
    Businesses operating outside of Japan may find that accepting JCB allows them to tap into the market of Asian tourists, and especially Japanese tourists, abroad. This sector is known for their high spending power, and accepting JCB could be a particularly strategic move for luxury retailers, hotels, and upscale restaurants frequently patronized by Japanese tourists.

  • Compatibility with digital payment methods
    JCB cards are compatible with a number of electronic payment methods, including QR code-based transactions and NFC (near-field communication) technology. This compatibility means businesses can offer a range of payment options to meet customer preferences, leading to faster transaction times and improved customer experience.

  • Localized marketing support
    JCB collaborates with businesses for promotional activities timed to Japan’s distinct shopping seasons and cultural events like the New Year or Golden Week. Businesses that participate in these programs may increase sales volume due to the higher foot traffic and spending during these periods.

  • Customer loyalty programs
    JCB’s loyalty program is deeply ingrained in the Japanese market, and businesses that integrate these programs can attract customers committed to maximizing their points. These programs not only attract new customers but encourage repeat patronage.

  • Local market insights
    JCB’s extensive data on Japanese consumer spending patterns is valuable for both domestic and foreign businesses. This information can guide businesses in tailoring product offerings, adjusting pricing strategies, and planning marketing campaigns. JCB also provides multilingual support for understanding local regulations and cultural nuances, which can be particularly beneficial for businesses unfamiliar with Asian markets.

  • Cross-border ecommerce opportunities
    Businesses that accept JCB can take advantage of its expansion in the ecommerce sector, especially in Asia. Japanese businesses that accept JCB can access the growing domestic online shopping market, and foreign businesses that accept JCB can tap into the growing base of Asian customers engaging in cross-border online shopping, distinguishing themselves from other international providers by including a trusted local payment solution, such as JCB.

  • Customized business solutions
    JCB creates customized business solutions that optimize fee structures and transaction handling processes for different market contexts. This can be particularly advantageous for small and medium-sized enterprises looking to expand their customer base.

JCB’s security measures

JCB uses the following security measures to keep sensitive cardholder and business information confidential:

  • J/Secure™ authentication program
    Since 2004, JCB has utilized its J/Secure™ program for card-not-present (CNP) transactions. This program enhances online commerce security by adding another step to verify identity, allowing cardholders to authenticate their card directly with the issuer.

  • J/Smart™ card
    As part of its global security initiative, JCB developed the J/Smart™ EMV-compliant card for its issuing partners worldwide. This smart card is embedded with an IC (integrated circuit) chip that provides added security and multifunctionality.

  • Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC)
    JCB founded the PCI SSC in 2006 along with other major payment brands. This council sets global standards for payment security, protection of customer information, and prevention of card fraud.

  • Holographic magnetic stripe cards
    The holographic magnetic stripe card feature, introduced worldwide in 2012, combines a magnetic stripe with a hologram, enhancing the security of JCB cards and helping prevent counterfeiting.

  • Regulatory compliance
    JCB operates in compliance with all credit transaction mandates from the Japan Consumer Credit Association, including encouraging affiliated stores not to retain credit card information, implementing security against vulnerabilities and viruses, and managing device and administrator rights. JCB also acts in compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and adheres to EMV specifications, a global standard for secure payment transactions.

  • Ecommerce security
    To address risks of unauthorized use in ecommerce, JCB has put into place measures including user verification protocols like EMV 3D Secure, security codes, fraud detection systems, and verification using unauthorized recipient databases.

How to accept JCB payments

Businesses that want to accept JCB payments must meet certain requirements. JCB does not work with some business categories, including businesses in the gambling or lottery industries, or those operating pornographic or sexual chat services. The steps required to start working with JCB as a business are outlined below:

  • Choose a payment service provider (PSP)
    To accept JCB payments, businesses must partner with a PSP that supports JCB transactions. Mastercard and Visa have a wider range of PSP options than JCB, but PSPs that support JCB payments include AllSecure, Elavon Europe, Adyen, Unlimint, Mangopay, Stripe, Alto Global Processing, and Checkout.com. These providers manage online payment processing, fraud prevention, and integration with ecommerce platforms.

  • Integrate JCB as a payment option
    Businesses must integrate JCB as a payment option online, setting up a payment gateway that supports JCB transactions on their ecommerce platform. This allows the business’s system to communicate with JCB for authorization and payment processing during the online checkout process. On the customer side, checking out with JCB is identical to checking out with other credit cards online and requires entering card details such as the card number, expiration date, and CAV2 (JCB’s version of a security code).

  • Ensure security compliance
    Businesses working with JCB must comply with standard security measures. Their obligations include using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and proper firewalls. JCB transactions are further secured by JCB’s J/Secure™ authentication program, which adds an extra layer of identification and is especially useful for card-not-present transactions.

Alternatives to JCB

Businesses that accept JCB can choose from several alternative payment methods. The key features of JCB’s main competitors are outlined below:

  • Visa
    Visa is one of the largest and most widespread payment technology companies. Visa has a range of credit, debit, and prepaid cards and is known for its extensive network and global acceptance. Its reach and strong brand reputation make it a major competitor to JCB, especially in international markets.

  • Mastercard
    Similar to Visa, Mastercard is a widely recognized global payment processing network. It provides various products like credit, debit, and prepaid cards and is known for its innovative payment solutions. Mastercard presents a similar market threat to JCB as Visa.

  • American Express
    American Express is another major player in the credit card industry that differs slightly from Visa and Mastercard in issuing its own cards. American Express is particularly known for its premium services and customer loyalty programs and competes with JCB in higher-end market segments.

  • Discover Financial Services
    Though Discover Financial Service is more US-centric, it also has competing credit card services and operates the Discover and Pulse networks. It’s known for its customer-friendly policies like no annual fees and cashback rewards and is stiff competition to JCB in markets where both are present.

  • China UnionPay
    UnionPay is a major competitor to JCB in Asia and particularly in China. UnionPay is the only domestic bank card organization in China and is extensively used in the Asian market.

  • PayPal
    PayPal is primarily an online payment system, but it also has credit products and competes with traditional credit card companies like JCB in the digital payment space. It’s especially popular for online transactions and has a broad global user base.

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