The Suica card, which looks like this: , is definitely a possible sign of the future. Basically, it’s a chargeable train pass/debit card. You can use it on the JR trains, and now you can use it in store to purchase stuff like a debit card. The nice thing about it is, instead of swiping and signing like a credit card, you just press it up against the reader, and you’re good to go. Takes literally 2 seconds. Maybe 1 if you’re a ninja. Most people keep it in a wallet or “pass case” with a little window on it. They just press their wallet/case on the suica panel and they’re good to go. Now, if you lose your card you’re screwed, but worrying about this stuff isn’t the point of progress.
This thing might actually turn Japan into a cashless society. Credit cards and checks couldn’t do that here. People literally still carry huge wads of cash with them. A lot of companies still give their employees their wages via big envelopes of cash.
I like Suica (the word also means watermelon, although I don’t know why their main mascot is a penguin). There’s also a campaign going on right now where you use your Suica at convenience stores to buy stuff, and you get a sticker. Collect 3 stickers, and you can send in to win stuff like a penguin pillow or a coffee mug. Here’s the link, if you want to see it for yourself. I found one of the conbini that just had the box of stickers sitting out, so of course I stole a handful. I’m going to send a bunch of postcards in and hopefully win something.
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