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Japan gov't point reward system encouraged some consumers to use cashless payments: poll

A sign showing that credit cards, electronic money and other methods of cashless payments are accepted is seen at a souvenir shop in Shimogyo Ward in the ancient capital of Kyoto, in this photo taken on Aug. 30, 2019. (Mainichi/Kenji Yakura)

TOKYO -- Some 20% of respondents to a recent Mainichi Shimbun survey said they have either started using cashless payments or are considering using such payment methods, after the government introduced a point reward system to counter the negative economic effects of the recent sales tax hike from 8% to 10%.

The Mainichi Shimbun carried out the nationwide survey using computer-generated random phone numbers over the weekend of Oct. 26-27 and asked survey subjects about the point reward system in which consumers using cashless transactions -- with credit cards, e-money or other cashless payment methods -- receive up to 5% of the purchase price back. Seven percent said they had already started using cashless payments because of this system, while 13% are "considering" using such payment methods.

The proportions of those who answered they have used cashless payments since before the system was introduced, and who said they will not be using such payment methods, each reached 35%.

The rate of cashless payment users varies among generations. Half of those younger than 50 responded they have been using cashless payments since before the system was introduced, compared with 34% of those in their 50s, 29% of those in their 60s and 19% among those aged 70 and older. Older generations generally appeared hesitant about going cashless, with 31% of those in their 50s, 43% of those in their 60s and 54% of those aged 70 and older saying they have no intention of using cashless payments. The figure dropped to 20% among those in their 40s and younger.

In line with the latest sales tax hike, a reduced tax rate was introduced for some food and beverage items, which created a split tax rate. When a consumer eats at an establishment, the food is taxed at 10% but if the same items are bought to go, they are taxed at 8%. In the survey, 62% said they don't care about the different tax rates when eating out, far higher than the 28% who responded that they care.

(Japanese original by Satoru Iwashima, Poll Office)

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