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Massive e-cash surge hits Japan's shops

E-cash shopping
Shopping with RFID e-cash is commonplace in Japan

We've seen before how pervasive RFID-based electronic money is in Japan, but it comes as a bit of a shock to note that the country now has exactly one e-cash card in circulation for every member of the population.

The surprising statistic comes from Nomura Research Institute, which says the end of April this year saw the number of e-cash cards reach 127 million - one for every Japanese resident.

Tower of Babel

More than ten variations on the basic RFID electronic money card are available, as well as several different standards embedded in phones.

That mix initially created something of a problem in finding a single reader/writer terminal to allow retail outlets to accept e-cash.

However, the advent of terminals that can support multiple standards seems to be behind the surge in popularity of e-cash.

Bright future

And Nomura predicts the future can only get brighter - it forecasts Japanese e-cash purchases hitting a staggering ¥3 trillion (£19 billion) in less than four years and that's excluding the Oyster Card-like travel cards that are already ubiquitous there.