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: NREL releases report card on environmental efforts

Related Stories

NREL releases report card on environmental efforts

October 28, 2015

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) continued to improve its environmental protection efforts at its South Table Mountain and National Wind Technology Center sites during 2014 by reducing greenhouse ...

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 ...

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.

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.

Bank card identifies cardholder

March 6, 2013

From the gas station to the department store – paying for something without cash is commonplace. Now such payments become more secure: The Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD engineered a solution for ...

Recommended for you

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...


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.