Culture Tech

Don’t Travel with Coins Around Japan, but Hold Suica

In October of 2017, the NEWS that New York city will finish installing contactless payment system into city’s subway and buses by 2020 was delivered to New Yorkers. The subway system has been using a magnetic card called “Metro card” since 1995. Honestly, it is an old system… Since big metropolitan cities in Asia has started using the contactless IC card for payment for those transportation and shops in stations or convenient stores being omnipresent around the countries 5-15 years ago, the installation of the system is delayed in comparison with the country. Anyway, just give a message to New Yorkers, “Congrats! At least, you will be saved from frustration that the machine doesn’t read Metro card!”

It is said a ratio of credit card ownership among Japanese people is much lower than America. It seems they don’t trust “owning their card for money transaction”, but interestingly most people from children to elderly people have contactless IC cards. If you have been to Japan, you would easily guess why it happened.

In 2002, East Japan Railway Company developed its own contactless IC card and replaced magnetic card to the card. Since the company has a lot of kiosk inside platforms and convenience stores in station’s buildings – if a station is not too small, there is, at least, one convenient store the company owns in each station, the card was started using for payment of the purchase. Later, bending machines started accepted the card.  People charge money to the card at a ticket machine or issue your account for automatic refill.

People don’t need to carry coins and can use it as a transportation ticket, so it was welcomed by Japanese society. Now, most transportations including private rail and bus companies and many stores accept the payment of the card. Also, each card has different names and it has their own character. Check it and buy the one you like when you visit Japan!    

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