With cashless payments finally gaining some ground in cash-loving Japan amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some municipalities are hoping to take the momentum to the next level — community-specific digital money.

Regional virtual currencies can be used in a specific city or ward and are intended to stimulate local economies that have been battered by the pandemic. But another goal is for users to become more attached to their community through the use of local money, while hoping to turn the new digital tools into vital community infrastructure in the long term.

But could localized money really take root given that consumers already have other, more convenient digital payment options?