E-money gains further ground in Japan

February 15, 2006

It's been a year since East Japan Railway decided to concentrate on getting more of its riders to use an electronic money system for everything from buying commuting tickets to purchasing magazines for the train ride. The system is easy enough to use, as riders buy a prepaid card that has a minimum balance of $18 (2,000 yen), which they swipe across the entry gate of the train station to board their ride. In addition, the card can be handed over to cashiers at newsstands operating inside the stations, so that riders can buy goods through the electronic money card.

Moreover, as of January, the railway group has tied up with both NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, two of the country's biggest mobile carriers, to develop cellular handsets that can have the electronic Suica card built in on the back. So instead of digging through a wallet for the card, users can simply swipe their mobile phones onto the train station's gates to gain entry.

Given that East Japan Railway operates one of the busiest networks in the Tokyo area, demand for Suica cards has been strong. In addition, the network has tied up with a slew of retailers so that the cards can be used to purchase goods beyond train stations. In a country that continues to eschew using credit cards for small purchases, the electronic payment system has proved to be particularly popular with consumers of all ages.

The success of the Suica card has certainly inspired other companies to bolster their electronic money system, including other transportation groups.

This week the West Nippon Expressway highway group said it too will introduce its own version of electronic money. Its SAPA card will be available on a pilot basis at 53 service stations along the highway in the Kyushu region of southern Japan from April 2006 to March 2007.

Like the railway card, the prepaid SAPA card will allow those on the road to purchase goods at service stations along the highway. It will not, however, be as convenient as the Suica, given that the West Nippon Expressway group will only have one machine available per station while the program is still in the pilot stage. In addition, not all service stations along the road will be equipped with even one machine to read the card.

Another problem is that the card cannot be used to pay for tolls or gas either. Yet despite such limitations, the West Nippon Expressway group pointed out that the experimental period will remain crucial to gauging the future success of the card, and having it available on a pilot basis will allow the company to iron out any problems the system might have before it is formally adopted.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Hidden GPS devices to track suspects raise legal concerns

Related Stories

Hidden GPS devices to track suspects raise legal concerns

October 1, 2015

For months, police trying to solve a Long Island robbery spree had little more to go on than grainy surveillance footage of a man in a hoodie and black ski mask holding up one gas station or convenience store after another.

A humanoid robot to liaise between space station crews

September 7, 2015

A team of French researchers from the Institut cellule souche et cerveau (Inserm/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), led by CNRS senior researcher Peter Ford Dominey, has developed "an autobiographical memory" for the robot ...

VeriFone signs taxi ad deal with NBC

December 20, 2011

(AP) -- Cab riders in New York and other big cities may soon be able to buy movie tickets and other items while in taxis, paying with the same system that charges credit cards for cab fare.

Recharging in private

May 27, 2015

An electronic payment system developed in Singapore will protect the privacy of customers recharging their electric vehicles.

Recommended for you

Most EU nations seek to bar GM crops

October 4, 2015

Nineteen of the 28 EU member states have applied to keep genetically modified crops out of all or part of their territory, the bloc's executive arm said Sunday, the deadline for opting out of new European legislation on GM ...

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

Trade in invasive plants is blossoming

October 3, 2015

Every day, hundreds of different plant species—many of them listed as invasive—are traded online worldwide on auction platforms. This exacerbates the problem of uncontrollable biological invasions.

Internet giants race to faster mobile news apps

October 4, 2015

US tech giants are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users, developing new, faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets remain unclear.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.