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.

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