Three major railway companies in Japan’s western region of Kansai have announced plans to introduce a contactless payment system using debit and credit cards.
Up till now travelers have had to use either paper tickets or prepaid IC cards to pay their fares. But by the end of 2024, passengers at the stations of Kintetsu Railway, Hankyu Railway, and Hanshin Electric Railway will be able to pay their fares by simply tapping their bank cards at the ticket gates.
According to the three rail companies, the new system is being introduced to increase convenience for all passengers but it is also aimed at foreign visitors whose numbers are expected to increase dramatically during the 2025 Expo in Osaka.
Passengers will be able to pay their fares by using either a credit card, a debit card, or a smartphone that is connected to one of these cards. They can simply tap their bank card or smartphone at a special card reader installed at the ticket gates to pay their fare, and then pass through the gates. All the stations of Kintetsu, Hankyu and Hanshin railway companies will have these card readers installed by the end of 2024.
Compatible cards will include Visa, JCB, American Express, Diners Club, Discover and UnionPay, and there are plans to add Mastercard to the system at a later date.
Kintetsu, Hankyu and Hanshin are not the first railway companies in Japan to introduce this system. Nankai Railway, which also operates in the Kansai region, has been using the same system since 2021.
Article by Michael Lambe. Images courtesy of Kintetsu, Hankyu and Hanshin Railways. All rights reserved.