Debit card issuance has dipped slightly in Japan over the past two years, a new report suggests.
Financial institutions in Japan now issue 417.8 million debit cards, up 1% from 413.6 million in 2009 but down 0.7% from 421.2 million the previous year, according to research firm Euromonitor International, which published the report in November.

J-Debit, a PIN-card operated by Tokyo-based Japan Debit Card Promotion Association, dominates Japan’s debit card market with a 99% share. Japan Post Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, both based in Tokyo, are the two largest J-Debit card issuers. Some regional banks, such as Suruga Bank, issue a Visa-branded debit card, but primarily only in the Shizuoka prefecture.

Euromonitor attributes the slight drop in cards over the past two years to the limited number of debit card terminals in the country and to the fact that issuers do not offer rewards programs tied to debit cards, making them less appealing to consumers than credit cards. Credit card issuance in Japan reached 322.3 million cards as of March, up 1.4% from a year earlier, according to Japan Consumer Credit Association.

Moreover, while merchants widely accept credit cards, in some instances debit cards cannot be used, such as when paying for a taxi ride, the report added.

Euromonitor expects the debit card market to develop slowly because of the limited number of terminals and inconvenience.

Debit card sales volume will drop by 1.5% in 2015, to 721.5 billion yen (US$8.6 billion or 6.6 billion euros) from 732.4 billion yen in 2010, the research company predicts.

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