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Examples of the pandemic being the mother of invention — as well as adoption and innovation — continue to emerge.

Long known for its love of cold hard cash, Japan has a number of hurdles preventing the shift to credit and e-currencies. The new normal of the pandemic — and general avoidance of having to pass physical notes and coins — is changing all of that.

While a government campaign to promote cashless transactions was launched after the 2019 consumption tax hike, it appears that fear of COVID-19 infections has been successful in fueling the adoption of cashless options. About 30% of survey respondents said they had been using cashless more often since last April. Given the overall momentum, the county’s goal of doubling the rate of cashless payments — 40% of all transactions — by 2025 actually looks achievable, writes Kazuaki Nagata.

Various digital payment options are displayed at a convenience store in Tokyo in September. | KYODO
Various digital payment options are displayed at a convenience store in Tokyo in September. | KYODO

This have been great news for banks, which had to use considerable resources to maintain ATMs and counter service. The recent transition away from cash has made it easier for banks to focus on more revenue-generating services such as offering investment advice to clients.

The pandemic has also spurred technological advances in field of remote medicine. Smart watches, beds and even shirts are being employed to gauge indicators such as heart or respiratory rates. Data can be sent to the patient, a caregiver or medical workers.

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