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Japan to pilot biometric payment system for tourists


In an effort to prevent crime and reduce the need to carry cash or credit cards ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Japanese government will test a biometrics-based payment system this summer that will see foreign tourists able to verify their identity and make purchases using only their fingerprints.

According to a report by The Japan News, the pilot project will have inbound tourists register their fingerprints and other data, such as credit card information, at airports. Tourists will then be able to conduct tax exemption procedures and make purchases after verifying their identities on fingerprint readers installed at stores.

The government also plans to replace the requirement that foreign tourists must show their passports when they check into ryokan inns or hotels with fingerprint authentication.

300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments located in popular tourists spots will participate in the pilot project which, if successful, will gradually expand throughout the country by 2020.

After analyzing tourists’ movements and their spending habits, the data is expected to be utilized to devise policies on tourism and management strategies for the tourism industry. However, there are concerns that tourists will be uneasy about providing personal information such as fingerprints.

The pilot project will also examine issues including how to protect one’s privacy and information management.

Previously reported, Japan’s Aeon Bank will soon be introducing ATMs that allow clients to access their account using only fingerprints for identification and Tokyo-based startup Liquid is implementing its biometric payment system at numerous stores across Japan, authorizing customers to purchase goods and services with just their fingerprints and veins.

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