East Japan Railway Company is in talks with internet service provider IIJ over the implementation of a Bitcoin payment method for the Japanese subway, according to local media outlet ANN News.
The plan is to allow customers to top off their contactless ‘Suica’ public transport card with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, which can then be used to access the subway.
Japan Railways Group is also looking into the potential of creating its own cryptocurrency exchange that would allow efficient integration with the Suica card.
The card will also be able to be used in shops within the subway stations, enhancing the use case of cryptocurrency as a payment solution.
East Japan Railway Company is also looking into Mizuno Bank’s J-Coin, which has drawn parallels to JP Morgan’s native cryptocurrency JPM Coin.
Japan is being forced to innovate when it comes to the usage of cash as it is currently lagging behind the likes of China and Europe, with just 20% of transactions in Japan taking place digitally – a stark contrast to China’s figure of 60%.
The government is aiming to pivot towards a “cashless vision” that would see digital payments double to 40% by 2027.
“According to the report ‘Cashless Vision,’ compiled by a panel of experts under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, cashless systems at retail stores will save manpower at a time when Japan desperately needs to improve productivity amid a labor shortage and declining population,” reports the Japan Times.
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