Nearly 20% of Japan households using e-money but cash still king

About 18.5 percent of Japanese households said they use electronic money, such as smartphone apps and debit card payments, on shopping trips where ¥1,000 or less is spent. (AFP)
Updated 18 November 2019

Nearly 20% of Japan households using e-money but cash still king

  • About 18.5 percent of Japanese households said they use electronic money, such as smartphone apps and debit card payments
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to make more Japanese switch to cashless payments

TOKYO: Almost a fifth of Japanese households use electronic money for small purchases, a survey by a central bank-affiliated research institute showed, up from a year ago and a sign the country’s cash-hoarding culture is changing.
In the survey published on Monday and conducted between June and July, 18.5 percent of households said they use electronic money, such as smartphone apps and debit card payments, on shopping trips where ¥1,000 ($9.17) or less is spent, up from 15.4 percent in the previous year.
Among single-person households — 43 percent of whom are in their 20s and 30s — the ratio was much higher at 35.6 percent, suggesting government efforts to prod Japanese to go cashless may be paying off, at least among the younger generation.
Despite the growth in electronic payments, Japan’s “cash-is-king” mentality remains entrenched with the survey showing 84 percent still use notes and coins for small purchases.
And for payments exceeding ¥10,000 and up to ¥50,000, 48.5 percent of households said they pay by cash and 3.4 percent by electronic money, the survey showed.
A low crime rate, years of ultra-low interest rates and a nationwide network of automatic-teller machines (ATMs) have long made cash appealing in Japan, giving people few reasons to shift to cashless payments.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to make more Japanese switch to cashless payments to allow stores to automate sales estimates and banks to cut back on costly ATMs.
Shoppers have recently been encouraged to ditch cash for e-money after the government introduced a rebate program to ease the pain of a sales tax hike on Oct. 1.


France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

Updated 08 December 2019

France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

  • Macron government will discuss a global digital tax with Washington at the OECD, says finance minister

PARIS: France is ready to go to the World Trade Organization to challenge US President Donald Trump’s threat to put tariffs on French goods in a row over a French tax on internet companies, its finance minister said on Sunday.

“We are ready to take this to an international court, notably the WTO, because the national tax on digital companies touches US companies in the same way as EU or French companies or Chinese. It is not discriminatory,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 television. Paris has long complained about US digital companies not paying enough tax on revenues earned in France.

In July, the French government decided to apply a 3 percent levy on revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than €25 million in French revenue and €750 million ($845 million) worldwide. It is due to kick in retroactively from the start of 2019.

Washington is threatening to retaliate with heavy duties on imports of French cheeses and luxury handbags, but France and the EU say they are ready to retaliate in turn if Trump carries out the threat. Le Maire said France was willing to discuss a global digital tax with the US at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but that such a tax could not be optional for internet companies.

“If there is agreement at the OECD, all the better, then we will finally have a global digital tax. If there is no agreement at OECD level, we will restart talks at EU level,” Le Maire said.

He added that new EU Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni had already proposed to restart such talks.

France pushed ahead with its digital tax after EU member states, under the previous executive European Commission, failed to agree on a levy valid across the bloc after opposition from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The new European Commission assumed office on Dec. 1.