ITOCHU Announces Belong and Mercari Begin Collaboration For Safe and Secure P2P E-commerce Transactions of Smartphones between Individuals

September 7, 2023

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it has formed a partnership with Mercari, Inc. (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Shintaro Yamada, Representative Director & CEO; hereinafter “Mercari”) via Belong Inc. (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Daisuke Inoue, President; hereinafter “Belong”), ITOCHU’s wholly owned subsidiary (including indirectly held shares) that operates a used mobile device distribution business, to begin offering Secure Data Deletion service and Quick & Easy Smartphone Buy-back service in the marketplace app, Mercari, aiming to establish a safe, secure and easy environment for peer-to-peer (hereinafter “P2P”) e-commerce transactions of smartphones.

The used smartphone market is expanding, and the number of used smartphones sold in FY2022 reached a record 2.34 million units (10.4% increase from the previous year), and is expected to reach 3 million units by FY2025.*1 Additionally, the estimated size of the P2P e-commerce market is 2.4 trillion yen in 2022 (6.8% increase from the previous year).*2 Taking these into consideration, led by Mercari which provides marketplace app with more than 22 million monthly users, it is expected that P2P e-commerce transactions of smartphones will be a more active market in the future.
On the other hand, mobile devices that are not used anymore and stored at home (hereinafter “treasure devices”) are increasing year by year. It was estimated that there were 265 million treasure devices with an estimated value of about 3 trillion yen in 2020, but in 2022 it was estimated that there were about 306 million treasure devices and their estimated value had more than doubled to 6.5 trillion yen.*3 In a User Awareness Survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (March 2023),*4 the highest percentage of respondents (56.6%) answered that “I keep (56.6%) my previously used mobile devices at home”, and the highest percentage of respondents (26.5%) gave "I worry about personal information" as the reason for this. Therefore, it is likely that anxiety about data deletion is a hurdle for users when it comes to selling their smartphones as well.

Recently, Belong has launched the Secure Data Deletion service, which deletes data on behalf of sellers in P2P e-commerce transactions of smartphones on Mercari. After a transaction is concluded between individuals on Mercari, Belong takes custody of the seller's device, deletes the data, and hands it over to the buyer, thereby enabling safe and secure transactions of smartphones.
Belong has also started offering a web-based smartphone Buy-back service, called Quick & Easy Smartphone Buy-back service on Mercari. This will enable users to sell their smartphones to Belong without any hustle.
Belong has track record of deleting data from millions of devices annually using a data deletion tool certified by an international data security verification organization and others. Utilizing its past achievements in the stable supply of high-quality devices, ITOCHU will continue to be committed to utilizing the treasury devices through Mercari.

ITOCHU’s targets laid out in the basic policy of its medium-term management plan are realizing business transformation by shifting to a market-oriented perspective and enhancing our contribution to and engagement with the SDGs through business activities. Collaborating with Mercari via its subsidiary Belong, ITOCHU aims to make reuse more accessible through Belong’s Secure Data Deletion service and Quick & Easy Smartphone Buy-back service and will continue to contribute to the development of a sustainable society through the effective utilization of limited resources.

  • *1Source: Trends and Forecasts for the Market Size of Used Smartphones in FY2022 by MM Research Institute, Ltd.
  • *2Source: Digital Commerce Environmental Improvement Project in 2022 (E-Commerce Market Survey) by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
  • *3Source: The Total Value of Unused Mobile Phones (FY2022 edition) by Katsuhiro Miyamoto, Professor Emeritus at Kansai University
  • *4Source: User Awareness Survey (March 2023) by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications