Japan looks to fingerprint payment system for tourists

Forget NFC, heck forget even plastic. Japan is going for fingerprint currency instead. Almost like a page out of a sci-fi novel, the Japanese government is eying the use of fingerprints to implement not just identification but also payment systems for tourists. This will practically fill in the need for tourists to present passports at hotels and inns as well as the need to use credit cards for purchases. Japan intends this sure to be contentious method as a way to increase the volume of tourists, in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralymic Games.

The government presents many benefits to this fingerprint system, mostly supposedly for the convenience of tourists. Tourists are required to present their passports whenever they check into inns and hotels. With the new system, they only need to place their two fingers on a special terminal at the front desk. Such a system also lessens the need to use and carry credit cards or cash, which might also help lessen instances of crime in cities. Plus, it would be easier for tourists to conduct tax exception procedures.

Of course, that's the theory. In practice, the initial rollout will be limited to make that much a dent. A total of 300 shops, including souvenirs and restaurants are participating in the experimental phase and these will be limited to areas like Hakone, Kamakura, and Yugawara in the Kanagawa Prefecture as well as Atami in the Shizuoka Prefecture. It won't be until Spring when the experiment will reach tourist spots in the Tohoku region as well as Nagoya.

The biggest problem, however, will be actual adoption by foreigners who will be most likely worry about the privacy implications of such a system. Giving governments access to fingerprints, not to mention credit card information, will most likely raise warning flags among many tourists. If ever it becomes a mandatory system, it might actually have the opposite effect.

The program will indeed gather data, like how and where fingerprints are used, but naturally they are promised to be anonymized. It will be handled by a consultative body led by the Japanese government. Such a system is already in use on a much smaller scale at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture where it was reported to have been received positively.

VIA: The Japan News