Business

Cashless payments make up record 26.8% in Japan in 2019

Jiji

Cashless payment methods accounted for 26.8 percent of overall household consumption spending in Japan in 2019, up 2.7 percentage points year on year and hitting the highest level on record, according to data compiled by the industry ministry.

Still, the share of cashless payments is lower than those in other countries, such as South Korea, China and the United States, the data released Tuesday showed.

The ministry will encourage cashless payment service operators to keep their commission fees at low levels even after the existing government-led shopping point reward program expires at the end of this month.

Payments by credit cards made up 24 percent of the total household spending, up 2.1 points, although the pace of growth slowed from the 2.7 points in 2018.

The proportion of payments using quick response, or QR, codes rose to 0.31 percent from 0.05 percent. “QR codes are mainly being used to pay for small but frequent purchases,” a ministry official said.

Also contributing to the growth was the program to give reward points to people using cashless payment methods, introduced by the government in October last year to mitigate the impact of the consumption tax increase from 8 percent to 10 percent in the month.

The government has set a target of increasing the share of cashless payments to some 40 percent by 2025.

Curbing commission fees paid by stores to settlement service providers is a key to achieving the target, analysts said.

At a meeting of experts on Tuesday, the ministry compiled guidelines on the disclosure by cashless payment service operators of the upper and lower limits on their commission fees.

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