A Personal Journey Back to Japan: Reflections from Mobal’s CEO, Declan Somers

Hello there! I’m Declan, the CEO of Mobal, and an Irish expat who’s recently made the move back to Japan after a few years living in Poland. Before my stint in Europe, I had called Japan home for many years, and returning here felt like coming back to a familiar friend, albeit one who’s always changing and throwing new challenges my way. Moving countries is never without its hurdles, and Japan, with its unique blend of tradition and cutting-edge technology, is no exception. Let me share a bit of my journey and how it’s reshaped my perspective on what Japan is really like for expats. 


The First Puzzle: App Store Adventures 


One of the quirks I bumped into straight off the plane was wrestling with my iPhone’s App Store settings. The need to cancel all my subscriptions before I could switch my region back to Japan was a bit of a headache. It’s one of those things you might not think about until you’re knee-deep in the process, trying to download apps you suddenly find indispensable on this side of the world. 


We’ve seen this issue trip up quite a few folks at Mobal, and it’s exactly the kind of practical snag we aim to help smooth over. While we’re not in the business of changing how Apple runs its App Store, we do provide a straightforward way to get a Japanese phone number. It’s a small step, but it’s often the key that unlocks a much smoother start for many expats. 


The Essential: A Japanese Phone Number 


Getting a local phone number wasn’t just a step; it was more like a leap into making my life here manageable. Whether it was setting up utilities, getting furniture delivered, or even snagging some of those sweet newcomer deals, that number was my golden ticket. 


I remember thinking how we at Mobal are in a unique position to offer a bit of relief here. It’s not just about selling SIM cards or mobile plans; it’s about handing someone the keys to unlock their new life here, hassle-free. It’s something I personally find quite rewarding. 


Payments: The MobalPay Story 


Then there’s the whole saga of navigating Japan’s payment systems. From needing a Japanese payment card for everything from IC Transport apps to local shopping, the financial landscape here can be a bit of a maze. Back when I first lived in Japan, I would have given an arm and a leg for something like MobalPay. 


With MobalPay, we’re trying to bridge that gap for foreigners, giving them access to a card that’s widely accepted across Japan. It’s not about pushing a product; it’s about offering a solution to a common problem, making those first few weeks and months a bit less of a financial puzzle. 


The Digital Life: Apps Galore 


Rediscovering Japan through its array of local apps has been an adventure in itself. From booking a last-minute car share to exploring the best spots for sushi, the digital landscape here is incredibly rich and constantly evolving. 


This is where I see the real value of what we do at Mobal. It’s not just about providing a service; it’s about enabling experiences. By helping expats get connected and stay flexible financially, we’re hopefully making it easier for people to dive into life here, discover new places, meet new faces, and really make the most of their time in Japan. 


As I settle back into life here, these experiences have been a powerful reminder of why we do what we do at Mobal. Moving to a new country is a massive leap, filled with unknowns and challenges. If we can make that leap a little less daunting by providing a helping hand when it comes to staying connected and navigating daily life, then that’s a win in my book. 


Thanks for letting me share my journey with you. Here’s to making your transition to life in Japan as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Cheers! 

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