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Economy

Japan shoppers ditch cash and embrace e-money for tax breaks

Convenience stores see 50-60% surge in mobile transactions after Oct.1 hike

Perks offered by convenience chains gave a big boost to cashless payments in early October. (Photo by Maho Obata)

TOKYO -- Shoppers in Japan are quickly embracing mobile payments and electronic money after the sales tax hike this month, advancing the push to pay electronically in a country where cold hard cash remains king.

Seeking to cushion the impact of the Oct. 1 tax increase to 10% from 8%, the government rolled out the same day a nine-month reward points program aimed at smaller retailers. Customers earn either 2% or 5% of their noncash purchases, including credit card payments, in shopping points. As of its launch, the program was available at roughly half a million shops nationwide.

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