Q25What other types of electronic money exist in Japan?

A25 In November 2001, East Japan Railway Company (JR East) started its Suica prepaid, rechargeable, contact integrated-circuit (IC) card service that can be used as a train ticket and season ticket. After the Suica service was launched, electronic money functionality was added to the cards using near-field communication(NFC) technology. The NFC device in the cards is activated when it is placed close to, or touches, a reader. As a result of this change, Suica cards can now be used not just within major JR East

The spread of electronic money railway stations-to travel, pay fare adjustments, make purchases at restaurants and other outlets-but outside, too-at the house-hold electrical appliance retailer Bic Camera, convenience stores and coffee shops, as well as in some taxis and at car parks.

As of April 2007, wickets at 1,739 stations within a radius of some 100 kilometers from Tokyo recognize Suica cards used as season tickets or ordinary rail tickets. At West Japan Railway Company (JR West) stations in the Kinki region (in Kansai), there are 281 stations with wickets that recognize the cards, 71 in the Sendai area, and 36 stations in the Niigata area.

In March 2007, railroad and bus companies in the Kanto region started a new contactless IC card ticket service called PASMO. As these cards are compatible with Suica cards, the number of stations where Suica cards could be used increased dramatically. According to JR East, as of August 2007, some 21.93 million Suica cards had been issued, of which 18.54 million were electronic money-enabled.