Anyone doubting the likely spread of Japanese-style electronic cash to the West that we've been predicting for some time need only look at the latest data on how many people there are actually using e-cash.
According to Nomura Research Institute, 100 million mobile phones with the necessary chips and electronic money cards had been issued in Japan by the end of June this year.
In a population of 127 million, that clearly represents impressive penetration for a technology that is, in practical terms, just four years old.
In terms of value, those cards and phones were used in fiscal 2007 to buy almost ¥850 billion (£4.1 billion) worth of goods. Most spending was on small-value items and services, such as local train travel and convenience-store goods.
That's still a drop in the ocean beside the amount spent on credit cards, which accrued 50 times as much over the same period. However, Nomura predicts that e-cash transactions are likely to be worth ¥3.3 trillion (£16.2 billion) by 2012.
The implications for the West are clear – catch up with the e-cash revolution or be left behind with your grubby old banknotes and coins.
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