Japan Tourism Project to Swap Credit Cards, Passports for Fingerprints

Japanese authorities are preparing to test out biometric payments for a potentially large-scale deployment. The system will confirm payment transactions by scanning two fingerprints simultaneously.

Japan Tourism Project to Swap Credit Cards, Passports for FingerprintsIt’s a project being spearheaded by the government as a means of improving tourism ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The electronic, biometric payment system would automatically deduct taxes, allowing visitors to bypass tax exemption forms, and it would also double as a kind of passport authentication, allowing visitors to scan their fingers when checking into hotels, rather than present their passports as is currently required. Perhaps more importantly, the system will allow the Japanese government to track data on tourist activity, allowing it to better manage its tourism efforts.

A pilot project is kicking off this summer and will involve about 300 merchants from tourist destinations in the country. Assuming all goes well, the government will expand the program throughout the country in the years to come.

The use of biometric technology within Japan is becoming increasingly prominent, with prominent telecom NTT-DOCOMO having debuted the world’s first iris-scanning smartphone last summer and the country’s Justice Ministry aggressively pursuing biometric border screening.

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