The Japanese government and Visa have teamed up in an effort to bring mobile payments to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The payment giant is preparing new payment experiences for visitors, athletes, and citizens attending the 2020 Olympics, an effort that will support the “Cashless Japan” campaign that is designed to boost mobile payments to 40% by 2045 from today’s 20%.
Visa is currently working to increase acceptance of digital payments with merchants ahead of the Summer Games, especially in quick-service restaurants and convenience stores, while connecting athletes with the concept. Mobile payments technology will be featured at the Olympic Village, Olympic venues, and throughout Japan in an effort to improve the experience for fans.
In a press release, the payment network stated that Japan is a unique opportunity with “the world’s third-largest economy” with commerce that “remains predominantly cash-based.”
About one-fifth of payments in Japan are digital compared with 60% in the United States, 70% in China, and 90% in South Korea, which has one of the highest adoption rates in the world.
The payment technology sponsor for the Olympics is also planning unique innovations for the Summer Games, including wearable technology, new mobile applications that use digital cards, and biometric payment authentication.This isn’t the first time the payment giant has worked to improve digital payment acceptance for the Olympics. In 2016 at the Rio Olympic Games, payment-enabled rings were provided to athletes. These rings used NFC technology and microchips made by Gemalto. The rings were water-resistant and did not need batteries or charging. Nearly 4,000 NFC-enabled point-of-sale terminals were implemented for the wearables and also to boost mobile payment acceptance at important Olympic venues in the city.
The Japanese government and payment network hope that improving access to digital payment technology will give the typical Japanese person more reason to use digital payments in the future.
Japan has been slowly moving toward the global cashless trend for the last few years. Japan has made the “Cashless Japan” effort such a priority to reduce the need for manpower at retail stores as the country faces a declining and aging population and labor shortage.
The government has another incentive for boosting digital payment technology: shifting away from cash improves transaction transparency and makes it easier and more efficient to collect taxes. In 1997 after a financial crisis, South Korea was able to successfully push forward cashless transactions to boost its economy and control taxes by offering a tax deduction for credit card purchases, among other incentives.
In Japan, however, cash has remained king thanks to a low crime rate that allows citizens to feel safe carrying even large amounts of cash, readily available ATMs, and high trust in cash.