E-money cards catch on with consumers in big way

Kyodo News

More smart cards with electronic payment systems have been issued in Japan than there are people, reflecting the widespread use of electronic money by consumers, according to card issuing companies.

The number of cards issued reached some 140 million at the end of August, an explosion of 20 percent from just a year earlier.

The total includes 51.4 million Edy cards, 29.6 million Suica cards, 10.9 million WAON cards and 8.9 million nanaco cards.

In addition, the Bank of Japan estimates there are about 15 million cards combining e-money and credit card functions.

Total payments using e-money is expected to exceed ¥1 trillion this fiscal year.

A survey conducted by the Nomura Research Institute in urban areas in June found that more than 60 percent of people age 18 and older had smart cards, with the rate at 80 percent in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Among other survey findings, holders of smart cards use them to pay an average of about ¥900 for each use, with the monthly average at about ¥6,000.