Japan’s hotels using biometric technology for guest registration

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is promoting the use of new technologies to simplify hotel registration and payment processes for guests, which will allow them to check in and make payments using a fingerprint sensor and an epassport scanner, according to a report by South China Morning Post.

The “Touch & Pay” fingerprint authentication system is one of the “miQip” identification services under the ministry’s “infrastructure improvement projects to create new business for IoT promotion”.

The initiative is designed to encourage the use of Internet of Things (IoT) to improve business operations.

Field tests have been conducted at about 220 tourist and accommodation facilities since 2016, with a full rollout kicking off in October.

The ministry expects that the system will be widely adopted across Japan by the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

In order to use the service, visitors must initially register their passport, credit card and fingerprint information at a dedicated service counter at the airport or tourist office in advance.

In addition to hotel check-in and payments, the system can be used to conduct duty-free purchases, store any purchased items in a locker, or have their items shipped back home, as well as reserve tickets.

Hotels and other accommodation facilities in the country are increasingly using epassport scanners to provide guests with a more seamless experience.

Previously, the majority of hotels in Japan would photocopy the guest’s passport and store it in a binder in a secured location for five years as required by Japanese law — a practice that was both time-consuming for hotel management and raised privacy concerns as the photocopying was done out of the guest’s sight in the back office.

One of the most recent accommodation facilities to adopt the technology is a Buddhist monastery, which also provides rooms to the public, near Mount Koya in Wakayama prefecture south of Osaka.

The monastery staff uses an ATOM ePassport reader linked to a computer to quickly capture the guests’ passport images and import the converted OCR (optical character recognition) text.

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