Crypto Pay Coming for Millions of Japanese Rail Passengers
Japanese commuters could soon be able to pay for their journeys in a range of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins.
Cloud and internet service provider IIJ has unveiled plans to work with the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) on a project that will allow travelers to pay for train tickets or at station shops and kiosks using cryptocurrencies, per ANN News. JR East is one of Japan’s biggest train operators and runs six of the country’s 10 busiest stations, according to Nippon.com.
Fresh from being handed an operating permit for its DeCurret cryptocurrency exchange platform earlier this week, IIJ stated that JR East could begin accepting payments in popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as early as June this year.
IIJ and JR East want to enable customers to pay in cryptocurrencies via the latter’s Suica smartcard, and are also hoping to allow smartphone-powered cryptocurrency payments. Some 75 million Suica cards are thought to be in circulation, and the cards can also be used at some 580,000 convenience stores throughout the country.
IIJ has been working on the payment platform for some time, but has had to hold off on rollout for operating permission from the regulatory Financial Services Agency.
IIJ has some very major financial backers – including JR East itself, as well as other big players on the domestic cryptocurrency scene. These include the likes of electronics retailer and Japanese crypto-pay pioneer BIC Camera and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (part of the larger MUFG financial empire). The latter has proven to be exceptionally blockchain-keen, and has developed its own MUFG stablecoin.
And there is a distinct possibility that Japanese travelers will be able to pay their fares in stablecoins like the MUFG Coin, too.
Indeed, Nikkei reports that Mizuho, a major MUFG rival, will begin a pilot on the new IIJ-JR East platform this month, allowing a select group of customers to make Suica payments using J Coin, its own digital token – also pegged 1:1 with the Japanese yen.