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Japan wants tourists to pay using only their fingerprints

You wouldn't have to carry cash or credit.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
April 10, 2016
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Toshiyuki Aizawa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The next time you travel to Japan, you might not have to stock up on yen (or bring your credit card) to go shopping. As of the summer, the country's government is testing a system that will let you use two fingerprints to make purchases at key tourist locations, such as hotels and restaurants. You'd only have to register your fingerprints at the airport to start shopping, and you wouldn't even have to worry about showing your passport when checking into your lodgings, like you do today. Only 300 locations in a handful of areas (Atami, Hakone, Kamakura and Yugawara) will participate at first, but it should keep expanding to the point where it's available nationwide in 2020 -- conveniently, right when Tokyo is hosting the Summer Olympics.

Officials are promising to anonymize the data they collect, but it's hard not to be a bit nervous. While Japan already asks that you offer your fingerprint when entering the country, this would take things to another level by connecting that print to your travel and shopping habits. The government will have to guarantee that any directly identifying data can't be abused, whether it's by overreaching politicians or hackers.

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