Net Shopping: Why Japan Won't Take The Plunge

An awkward credit-card setup and high fees are hurting sales

Midori Hara took her family's 83-year-old sake business, Echigo Meimon Shukai, online last year in a bid to turn it into a national company. Like any American e-business, she set up a credit-card payment option for her Web customers. Sure, the card outfits levied a stiff 4% on the amount of each sale charged on their cards--and that's after her landlord, virtual mall Rakuten Inc., secured a 50% discount. But Hara figured she could swallow the high fees while she built her customer base.

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