Business

Japan dangles ¥5,000 credit to persuade My Number ID cardholders to adopt smartphone payment system

Kyodo

Japan will enable those with My Number ID cards to use them in place of health insurance certificates, and will give shopping points worth ¥5,000 to My Number cardholders who make payments via smartphones, in measures unveiled Tuesday to shore up popularity of the card.

Launched in 2016, the My Number system allocated all residents a 12-digit ID number. But by the end of last month, only 13.9 percent had converted the paper slip notifying them of their number into a physical card.

From March 2021, some 60 percent of medical institutions will start to accept the cards in place of health insurance certificates. By March 2023 almost all such facilities will accept them, and approximately 220,000 hospitals and pharmacies in total will receive subsidies to purchase card readers and update computer systems.

Also, under a smartphone payment program set to be launched in October of next year, My Number cardholders will be given points worth ¥5,000 to spend at stores across Japan if they load ¥20,000 in their account.

The government has suggested that this will help cushion the economic impact of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to raise consumption tax from 8 percent to 10 percent next month, and that it will foster a rise in the use of cashless payments in what largely remains a cash society.

“My Number cards make it possible for various administrative procedures in daily life to be done electronically, increasing convenience for people,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a meeting of relevant ministers, at which the measures were revealed.

According to a road map presented at the meeting, Japan aims to ensure “most” residents have a card issued by the end of March 2023.

The My Number system was introduced as part of a new social security and tax number system to simplify administrative procedures.

But the lack of incentives for citizens to carry another IC card — in addition to the popular Suica and Pasmo commuter passes — and it containing private information such as name, address and date of birth are seen as factors behind the low issuance rate.