Japanese government launches biometric payment scheme to encourage tourists ahead of 2020 Olympic Games
The days of paying with cash could soon be at an end for one of the world’s most technologically-advanced nations after Japan revealed plans to allow payment for goods using a fingerprint.
The country’s government is testing a system that will let shoppers use fingerprints to make purchases at key tourist locations, such as hotels and restaurants, as well as confirm your identity.
The plans, which are set to launch later this summer, will cover several hundred locations in several locations around the country, before a nationwide expansion in time for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
The Japanese government is hoping that the scheme will increase the number of foreign tourists by lowering crime rates and cutting down on the need to carry cash or credit cards.
Users will need to register two fingerprints at their arrival airport, along with credit or debit card details, which are then encrypted.
But the service will also allow fingerprint authentication at hotels in the country, as Japan’s Inns and Hotels Law requires foreign tourists to show their passports when they check into ryokan inns or hotels.
This would also be used for tourists to shop tax-free and make purchases after verifying their identities by placing two fingers on special devices installed at stores.
Initially, around 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments will participate in the experiment, Japan News reported, located in areas that popular among foreign tourists such as Hakone, Kamakura, Yugawara in Kanagawa Prefecture, and Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture.
If successful, the scheme will be rolled out to areas such as Tokyo in time for the Olympics.
Data from the service will also be used to analyse tourist habits and spending trends, helping the Japanese tourist industry to make improvements on its tourism and management policies ahead of the Olympics, which are expected to bring millions of visitors to Tokyo and the surrounding areas.
Recent studies have shown that more and more people are becoming comfortable with using biometric systems, which look to offer more security than traditional authentication services.
A study conducted by Visa Europe found that three-quarters of 16-24 year olds in the UK would feel comfortable using information such as fingerprint scans, facial recognition or retina scanning in place of traditional passcodes.
Overall, three-quarters (76 percent) of this age group said that they would feel comfortable making a payment using biometric security, with over two thirds (69 percent) believe this will make their lives faster and easier.
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