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Fingerprint payments soon for Japan

To make shopping and hotel check-in more convenient for tourists, Japan will soon introduce a fingerprint payments system, doing away with the need for cash or cards.

Tourists will have to register at airports and other verification locations, recording credit-card information and other details, including fingerprints. Once registered, they can buy products at select stores by just placing their finger on a reading device. Taxes are automatically deducted.

The fingerprint system will also be used as a speedy substitute for passports tourists check into hotels.

In its first test phase, the project will involve 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments frequented by tourists in popular destinations such as the mountainous hot-spring resort area Hakone and the coastal town of Kamakura. The experiment is part of a wider effort by the Japanese government to encourage tourists to visit the capital in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Officials are hoping to launch the system throughout the country by 2020, when annual tourism is expected to reach 40 million visitors. The system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists, with anonymous data to be managed by a government-led consultative body. The data will help officials create effective tourism management policies.

MasterCard in February announced it would accept selfies and fingerprints instead of account passwords in the UK. Fingerprints are also accepted for payment authentication by several mobile wallets, such as Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

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