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3 Japan Railway Firms to Introduce System to Pay Fare by Tapping Credit Card at Ticket Gates

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A card reader placed at a ticket gate of Nakasu-Kawabata subway station in Fukuoka in May 2022, where passengers can pay their fare by tapping a credit card.

Three major private railway companies will introduce a system by the end of next year in which passengers can pay their fare by tapping a credit card at station ticket gates, sources said.

With the contactless payment system eliminating the need to purchase a ticket or charge a transportation IC card in advance, Kintetsu Railway Co., Hankyu Corp. and Hanshin Electric Railway Co. hope to increase convenience, especially for foreign visitors to Japan during the 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo.

Under the system, passengers can pay their fare by tapping a credit card with contactless payment functions at a dedicated reader which will be installed at each station. The payment can also be made by using a smartphone registered with a credit card. Credit cards compatible with the system will include those of Visa and JCB.

The contactless payment at train stations is already becoming common in other advanced nations. According to Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co., the system has been introduced by more than 680 transportation companies overseas, including in London and New York.

The three Japanese companies intend to strengthen their efforts to attract visitors to Japan who are more accustomed to using credit cards.

The introduction of credit cards in the payment system will also allow the three firms to offer more flexible services.

Passengers who pay their fare through the system could get some discounts on fare through credit card transactions, for example, if they did some shopping at commercial facilities owned by the three companies using the same card.

It will be convenient not only for visitors to Japan who do not have transportation IC cards, but also for residents in Japan. In the case of Visa, all credit cards issued in or after 2019 — which amount to 100 million in Japan — are compatible with the contactless payment.

The payment system has already been introduced by Nankai Electric Railway Co. connecting Kansai Airport and Osaka City since 2021.

Osaka Monorail Co. and Osaka Metro Co. also plan to introduce the system in the spring of 2024 and by the end of March 2025, respectively.