Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has launched a major initiative designed to persuade consumers to move away from paying in cash, by providing a rebate whenever they use a card or mobile phone to make a purchase at any of 500,000 merchants across the country.
The launch of the Cashless project has been timed to coincide with today’s increase in sales tax from 8% to 10%.
The government-funded rebate amounts to 2% of the total purchase amount at major retailers and 5% at small- and medium-sized merchants and is available until the end of June 2020.
Consumers can take advantage of the discount by using any of a wide range of payment options to make their purchase.
These include credit, debit, prepaid and transit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay, plus a number of QR mobile payments services such as Line Pay, PayPay and Rakuten Pay.
The discount is typically returned to the customer in the form of reward points. At convenience stores, however, the rebate is applied as a straight discount on the purchase price, Ata Distance reports.
In all, approximately 730,000 merchants have registered to take part in the programme and METI says that additional merchants will go live in batches every 10 days.