Japan Plans to Test Fingerprints As “Currency”

digital fingerprintBy Joseph Jankowski

Beginning this summer, the Japanese government will test a system in which foreign tourists will be able to use their fingerprints to make purchases.

The Japan News reports:

The government hopes to increase the number of foreign tourists by using the system to prevent crime and relieve users from the necessity of carrying cash or credit cards. It aims to realize the system by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The experiment will have inbound tourists register their fingerprints and other data, such as credit card information, at airports and elsewhere.

Tourists would then be able to conduct tax exemption procedures and make purchases after verifying their identities by placing two fingers on special devices installed at stores.

….

Data concerning how and where foreign tourists use the system will be managed by a consultative body led by the government, after the data is converted to anonymous big data.

Japan hopes that the system can become realized throughout the country by the time the Tokyo Olympics begin.

The Japanese government is unsure how tourists are going to embrace the fingerprint ‘as currency’ scheme but says its goal is to attract foreigners with the idea.

Japan would like to increase its annual number of foreign tourists to 40 million by 2020, reports The Japan News.

It is interesting that the government would choose to take fingerprints as cash considering that some are undoubtedly going to be wary of privacy implications and the fact that less invasive ways to go cashless exist.

Could this be a part of a bigger plan to collect personal data and phase out cash?

In Japan cash is already being phased out by phone wallet services. One of the popular services alone has over 50 million users.

Read: Japan’s wallet phones point the way to the cashless society

The plan to phase out cash has been openly discussed in Japan (and around the world) for quite some time now.

Take a look at this Washington Post article:

It was the telltale sound of Japan’s new electronic money. In seconds, Nashimoto had paid for his meal of sea urchin, eel and raw fish and was hustling back to work. No change from the cash register, no waiting for confirmation, no pin code to enter. “Who needs to carry real money?” said the commercial real estate manager. “I often don’t even carry a wallet with me anymore.”

Nashimoto is part of the latest trend in Japan, where society is rethinking commerce by doing away with the increasingly arcane concept of cash.

Technology analysts say the use of electronic money amounts to a leap forward in commerce and shopping. Using cell phones that transmit infrared signals — or, as in Nashimoto’s case, a smart card that doubles as a set of electronic keys and lets him earn airline miles with each use — Japanese consumers are whisking through checkout lines, buying everything from sushi to furniture without ever yanking out their wallets.

Users can add value to their cards or cell phones at thousands of automated docking stations around the country, where they insert paper money and get credit for e-cash. They can also use credit cards to replenish e-cash on the Internet.

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Joseph Jankowski is a contributor for Planet Free Will.com. His works have been published by recognizable alternative news sites like GlobalResearch.ca, ActivistPost.com, and Intellihub.com. Follow Planet Free Will on Twitter @ twitter.com/PlanetFreeWill

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