More than 50 Japanese banks are joining Tokyo bank J-Coin to set up a cashless payment system developed by Mizuho Financial Group, to be launched late next month.
The new service will initially be rolled out to existing account holders at regional banks. Mizuho Bank will initiate the service on March 1, with regional banks to follow after a period of around three weeks.
Around half of Japan’s regional banks are participating in the scheme at a time when the Japanese government is advocating cashless payments in advance of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
J-Coin payments will be processed via an app using a QR barcode, a phone number or a Line messenger personal ID number. Unlike the prepaid smart cards commonly used in Japan, J-Coin allows transactions between individuals without the need for dedicated scanning devices at point of sale.
A number of major retailers, including East Japan Railway Co and FamilyMart, have already indicated interest in adopting the system.
Observers have noted that partnerships with international cashless payment providers such as Alipay could see J-Coin become a preferred method of payment among visitors to Japan.
The Japanese government, aiming to double digital payments to 40 per cent of all transactions by 2025, will offer rebates of 2 per cent of convenience-store cashless purchases and 5 per cent of cashless purchases at other small- or medium-sized stores for nine months after its consumption tax is raised from 8 per cent to 10 per cent in October this year.