Japan pushes use of cashless payments as Olympics approach and banks strain
Earnest efforts are underway in both the public and private sectors to promote cashless payments ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

Credit cards, electronic money and other cashless systems account for 20 percent of all consumer payments in Japan, compared with 40 percent to 60 percent in the United States, European countries and China.

The government and businesses consider it essential to substantially reduce society’s reliance on cash to stimulate spending by those expected to visit Japan for the Olympics and other international athletic events.

The long-rooted custom of using checks to pay in North America and Europe meant they smoothly and quickly embraced credit cards and other cashless means of payment.

In Sweden, where transporting cash is difficult in wintertime, most people are said to use a smartphone-based system called Swish, and an increasing number of stores are no longer accepting cash.

In China, mobile payments based on QR (quick response) codes are in wide use due to widespread counterfeiting problems.

In Japan, however, cashless payments are limited by easy access to ATMs and fewer problems with theft and counterfeiting.

But the social cost of handling cash is huge. Related expenses, including ATM management and labor costs at retailers, are estimated to total ¥8 trillion, according to Mizuho Financial Group Inc. A substantial increase in cashless payments would create economic benefits of ¥10 trillion via such consequences as streamlining and stimulated consumption, Mizuho said.
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The Japan Times
JUN 19, 2018


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