METI plans to design payment app for tourists


The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is set to develop smartphone-based payment app to encourage foreign visitors to spend more during their stays in Japan.

According to Japan National Tourism Organization data, foreign visitors totaled 17,964,400 from January to November, up 47.5 percent from the same time a year earlier.

Consumption by tourists is surging. A recent Japan Tourism Agency survey showed spending by overseas visitors jumped 80 percent in the July to September quarter from the previous year to top ¥1 trillion for the first time.

At the Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo’s fashionable Ginza district, foreigners now account for about 25 percent of overall sales, a sizable increase compared to the 2 percent logged in 2012.

Still, many visitors are dissatisfied with the shopping environment in Japan because the number of currency exchanges and shops that accept credit cards is insufficient.

This situation prompted METI to develop a payment app for smartphones. It will launch trials of the app in April or later, aiming to put it into practical use by 2020, when the Tokyo Olympics begin, officials said.

Users will be asked to register in advance by specifying nationality and sex, and by providing credit card and passport numbers. Based on that data, other services may be offered, such as product delivery to hotel rooms and data on restaurants that cater to religious requirements, the officials said.

Data on the users’ spending patterns will be shared with credit card companies, hotels, department stores and other relevant parties to help formulate the marketing strategies targeting them, the officials said.

  • DutchCynic

    So, if I read this correctly, the Japanese government wants me to hand over all my personal data, in exchange for better shopping experience?