RealTime IT News

Japan Puts "Cyber Cash" to the Test

At a recent "cyber business conference" sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, conference chairman Mr. Takeshi Ichiriki announced the introduction of "cyber cash" as an experiment to be conducted in the country from September of this year through February of 1999.

Through this experiment they hope to better understand how "cyber cash" is to work as a circulated currency, and how the anonymity of the user in question is to be handled and protected.

Those involved include Tokai and Daiwa banks, Gifu Shinyo-kinko--a prefectural credit union--and the Federation of Credit Unions. Along with these financial institutions, sixteen selected companies have also agreed to participate. Among them: Asahi Shimbun (newspaper publisher), Dai Nippon Insatsu (paper products), and Obunsha (book publisher). The employees of these various companies have been registered as the participants.

Each participant will be given an "IC" card or internet debit card with which to purchase goods on the internet. A "card reader" will then be connected to their personal computer and the said user will have a bank account opened at one of the participating banks or credit unions.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, overseeing the experiment, is asking that no one spend more than 30,000 yen ($220), and that purchases be limited to digital information such as photos, news articles, and software.

Questions surrounding the anonymity of the buyer will be secure in the intial purchasing phase, but once the selected companies call on the banks to collect funds, the buyer's name will be disclosed.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications is hoping that with the introduction of "cyber cash" as a workable currency, growth of e-commerce will improve.

Upon the successful completion of this experiment next year, an additional ten thousand people will be invited to continue the "cyber cash" study.