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Tourists in Japan could soon use their fingerprints as currency

Image used with permission by copyright holder
Soon, you may be able to touch to buy — literally. Capitalizing upon its status as one of the most technologically advanced and innovative countries in the world, Japan is planning to test a new system of currency over the summer — the fingerprint. We’ve moved from precious metals to paper to plastic to flesh, and Japanese officials hope that this latest idea will actually help prevent crime and improve efficiency, especially as the tourist population booms in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics, to be held in Tokyo. Currently, some 300 stores, restaurants, hotels, and other places of commerce are signed up to participate in the initial testing of the fingerprint payment option.

The idea is similar to Apple Pay or other mobile payment systems that utilize fingerprint scanning. If implemented, tourists would have to register their fingerprints and connect them with valuable data, like credit card information, at airports and other official locations. Then, consumers would be able to buy merchandise or pay for services by simply placing two fingers on special devices scattered throughout the country. And while your fingerprint is meant to be your most unique identifier, it still won’t replace other forms of government-issued ID. For example, when you check into a hotel room, you’ll still have to flash a passport.

Such a system has already been tested in Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, where customers were able to pay via fingerprint in 30 different stores and restaurants. It seems it achieved great success, with a park official noting, “The system has been well received by customers, including those with children, since it saves them the trouble of taking their wallets out.”

Aeon Bank is also planning on testing the technology, allowing customers to visit ATMs with nothing more than their fingers. This, the bank says, should help with the safety of the machines. “The system is also superior in the area of security, such as preventing people from impersonating our customers,” an official said.

So if you live in fear of losing your wallet, this may be the perfect time for you to head over to Japan. All you need to bring is yourself.

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