The system aims to make shopping and checking into hotels more convenient for overseas visitors. Credit:Alamy
Visitors to Japan may soon be able to forget the hassle of having to change money – with the launch of a new system enabling fingerprints to be used as currency.
The system, which will launch this summer, aims to make shopping and checking into hotels faster and more convenient for overseas visitors, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.
It will involve foreign visitors first registering their details, including fingerprints and credit card information, in airports or other convenient public locations.
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Registered tourists will then be able to buy products, with taxes automatically deducted, from select stores by placing two fingers on a small fingerprint-reading device.
The fingerprint system will also be used as a speedy substitute for presenting passports when checking into hotels, which is currently a legal obligation for overseas tourists, according to reports.
In its first test phase, the project will involve 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments frequented by tourists in popular destinations including the mountainous hot spring resort area Hakone and the coastal town Kamakura.
The fingerprint experiment is part of a wider effort by the Japanese government to encourage visitors from overseas to visit the capital in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Officials are hoping to launch the system throughout the country – including Tokyo – by 2020, with as many as 40 million overseas annual visitors expected by that year.
The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists, with anonymous data to be managed by a government-led consultative body.
The data obtained from the project will be used to help government officials create effective tourism management policies, according to Yomiuri.
One concern among officials, however, is that some tourists may be reluctant to provide fingerprint information voluntarily due to fears relating to privacy issues.