Japan unveils new banknotes for 1st time in 20 yrs

Bank of Japan on Wenesday started introducing new banknotes for the first time in 20 years, incorporating advanced technology for improved security and usability. Despite a preference for cash, cashless payments in Japan lag behind other Asian countries.

The Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda stated that cash remains a dependable payment method, even as society moves towards cashless transactions. Cash is expected to maintain its importance in the future.

The new designs incorporate cutting-edge 3D hologram technology, a world first for banknotes. This feature creates dynamic images that shift depending on the viewing angle, making counterfeiting significantly more difficult.

Additionally, the new bills prioritise accessibility, featuring larger and centrally positioned Arabic numerals for easier international recognition.

The redesigned notes showcase prominent figures from Japan’s Meiji period (1868-1912), a time of significant modernisation. The 10,000-yen bill features Eiichi Shibusawa, a key figure in Japanese capitalism.

The 5,000 yen note honours Umeko Tsuda, a champion for women’s education. Finally, Shibasaburo Kitasato, a pioneer in infectious disease research, graces the 1,000 yen note.

While the new notes offer advantages, adapting infrastructure to accommodate them presents challenges. Nomura Research Institute estimates a cost of 1.63 trillion yen ($10 billion) to modify ATMs, ticketing machines, and vending machines.

The Ministry of Finance reports that many ATMs and cash registers will support the new notes at launch, but vending machines and restaurant ticket systems may face compatibility issues, posing challenges for businesses.

While Japan embraces its new banknotes, some retailers are choosing to prioritise cashless solutions instead of adapting their machines. This trend is fueled by a growing national cashless payment market, reaching 39.3 per cent in 2023.

PayPay, a leading mobile payment provider, highlights Southeast Asia’s advanced cashless adoption, showcasing collaborations with services like Singapore’s OCBC Digital and Thailand’s TrueMoney.

Attribution: The Nikkei Asia

Leave a comment