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Tokyo to start reward points system

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Tokyo metropolitan government plans to introduce its own electronic currency, in a bid to ease the commuter rush during next year’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and reduce the use of plastic shopping bags that contribute to marine pollution, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Tentatively called “SDG coins,” the currency will be able to be used via a reward points program. It will be put into practical use from next fiscal year, following a pilot program scheduled to be implemented this fiscal year, according to sources.

Plastic bag reduction

The metropolitan government is promoting SDGs (see below), aiming to promote environmental protection by returning profits from the program to participating citizens. It also hopes the new efforts will lead to regional development, such as revitalizing shopping districts.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike will soon announce the plan at the Tokyo metropolitan assembly.

According to the envisaged plan, special cards for the program will be issued to such people as residents and workers in Tokyo as well as foreign tourists, and devices for the program will be set up at major stations and stores.

Those who go to work early to avoid rush hour or carry reusable shopping bags will receive points worth up to about ¥100 for such actions if they pass their cards over the devices.

Card holders will be able to use the points for payments at shopping districts and convenience stores, as well as to pay fares for transportation.

The metropolitan government will consider setting times during which reward points can be received, and linking cards for the new program to existing transportation IC cards.

The local government will earmark about ¥100 million in this fiscal year’s budget for the pilot program and start installing the devices in business districts and shopping streets early in the new year. It will encourage railway companies and other entities to take part and ask them to pay part of the costs necessary for the reward points.

The new program is also aimed at promoting the use of cashless transactions. The metropolitan government will mull introducing a system to exchange points with credit cards, transportation-related e-money such as Suica, and smartphone payment services such as PayPay and LINE Pay, hoping to continue the program after next fiscal year.

■ SDGs

Stands for “Sustainable Development Goals” and was adopted at the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit in 2015 as international targets to be achieved by 2030. They are aimed at achieving a good balance mainly among economic development, environmental protection and the alleviation of poverty. As part of the initiative, metals extracted from used mobile phones and small home appliances will be used to make the medals for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Some schools and companies have also introduced activities related to SDGs.

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