Home > Identity Theft > Fingerprint Scans Replace Debit Cards for Japan’s Tourists

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Are you one of those people who gets annoyed every time you have dig around your pocket or purse when you want to buy something? What if all you needed was a finger?

Well, you could be in luck… eventually.

Japan is planning to test out a system this summer that would eliminate the need for tourists to carry debit or credit cards, The Japan News reported this week. Rather than using a traditional plastic card to conduct transactions, visitors will soon be able to verify their identity and pay for items using biometric fingerprint scanning.

The Japanese government is reportedly testing out the system in an attempt to bolster tourism by preventing crime and eliminating the inconvenience of carrying cash or cards ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

How the System Will Works 

Starting this summer, inbound tourists will be asked to register their fingerprints in conjunction with their credit card information at airports. Once they verify their identities, they can then begin making card purchases by placing two fingers on special readers installed in stores and restaurants. According to The Japan News, about 300 retailers in popular Japanese shopping districts are currently planning to participate in the program, though the Japanese government plans to expand that number by next Spring.

Using biometric tools like this could prevent an illegal credit card skimmer from stealing your credit card information.

In addition to the potentially creating a safer environment for the 40 million tourists anticipated by 2020, the Japanese government is aiming to improve tourism management by using the big data it collects on tourists’ movements and spending habits.

“Data concerning how and where foreign tourists use the system will be managed by a consultative body led by the government, after the data is converted to anonymous big data,” The Japan News reported. “However, there are concerns that tourists will be uneasy about providing personal information such as fingerprints.”

Biometrics Basics

Payment by fingerprint is certainly not mainstream, though some startups and financial companies have been experimenting with using biometric measures, like fingerprint scans, to beef up card security in the U.S. and global markets. These measures are generally encrypted and not readily shared, but it’s always in your best interest to read the terms and conditions associated with a biometric you might use to learn, among other things, what is being scanned, where it is being stored, who may be privy to your data and what security features are in place should the sensitive information get stolen or compromised.

And, regardless of what security measures are in place, biometric or otherwise, you should always check your credit or debit card statements. Frequently keeping an eye on your credit card bill or bank statements is instrumental in protecting yourself from fraudulent activity. You should report any unrecognized account activity immediately to your bank.

You can also monitor your credit if you ever have reason to believe your personal information was compromised alongside your payment cards. (You can do so by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.) A sudden drop in credit score can be a sign identity theft is occurring.

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Image: Hemera Technologies

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