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Edy electronic money reshapes consumer spending patterns

Date Posted: 2007-08-09

Cellular telephones have joined plastic cards in the electronic era, offering new ways to avoid carrying cash and coins.

The acronym for this new spending system is Edy, a prepaid electronic money system now embraced by more than 2,500 businesses in Okinawa alone. More than 580,000 Okinawans used Edy in July, only three years after its debut. It’s 2004 start here was at A & W restaurants, and has spread now to Ryubo Department Store, Family Marts, gas stations, hotels, restaurants and sightseeing facilities.

Edy’s planning and おperating company, Bit Wallet, Okinawa Branch Director says the number of new business members accepting the electronic money is increasing. “For instance”, says Masao Okura, “Okinawa Family Mart consumers spend only ¥50~100 at a time. These people don’t want to keep coins in their pockets or wallets. It’s heavy and inconvenient, and it’s so easy to use cell phone money.”

Okura says Edy has machines available for people to make deposits and charge money on their phones, so they never need to keep cash. Aside from eliminating the need to carry cash, Okura says the 300+ cards in Okinawa permit accumulation points on ANA each time a person spends ¥200 or more. “With the many isolated islands,” Okura says, “passengers are very interested in collecting mileage points to get a free ticket.”

The points-for-miles plan is spreading rapidly by word of mouth, Okura says, as “friends tell friends how great it is to use the points to get miles for free tickets.” He encourages people to tie into the cell phone Edy system “It’s very comfortable,” he says.

Mosburger stores have now begun accepting Edy, as has Okito Taxi. Okito Taxi has more than 350 of its vehicles now equipped to accept the electronic money.

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