Japan to test digital ID cards with entertainment tickets

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

Japan’s controversial My Number ID cards are to be trialled in the entertainment and ticketing sectors in the coming months.

The government’s Digital Agency said it will launch a demonstration test later this month as it seeks to increase usage of the state-issued personal identification cards. It is to collaborate with major ticketing agency Pia Corp, consulting firm Dream Incubator and other private businesses on the scheme.

The trial will examine whether the use of My Number cards will help improve the efficiency of identity checks. The Digital Agency said it hopes that businesses will start full-fledged use of My Number cards based on the test results.

Among the matters tested will be age verification for the serving of alcoholic beverages at event venues. The agency also plans to conduct a test by the end of the current fiscal year to prevent unfair resale of tickets by requiring identity verification with My Number cards on official secondary distribution sites.

The government wants more widespread use of My Number cards despite their unpopularity across Japan. Introduced in 2015, a survey in 2019 found they were used by just 15% of the population, partly due to data privacy concerns.

Make services more efficient

My Number is a 12-digit number that is given to every resident of Japan. Although not mandatory, the government is encouraging people to get a My Number card in an effort to digitalise and make various services more efficient, such as health care and the issuance of residence certificates.

The government has renewed its interest in promoting the cards since Kono Taro was appointed Minister for Digital Transformation in 2022. Citizens have been since offered cash benefits to use their cards, while they will be forced to use their My Number to access health insurance from next year.

Over the past few months, there have been numerous reports of health insurance cards, disability records and bank accounts being erroneously tied to someone else’s My Number ID. In some cases, users were able to look at other people’s personal information on their My Number portal. The national government, under pressure to sort out the mess, announced an investigation into the Digital Agency, which is handling the rollout, in July 2023.

Last year it was reported that purchasing tickets could be harder for tourists in Japan, after Minister Kano asked the Cabinet’s Digital Agency to discuss the possibility of event-goers presenting their My Number Card when purchasing tickets and attempting to enter the venue.

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