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METI Releases Cashless Vision and API Guidelines for Utilization of Credit Card Data

In March 2017, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established a Study Group for API-based Collaboration Involving Credit Card Utilization. Since then, the study group held meetings to discuss specific measures for promoting API-based collaboration among credit card companies. In addition, in November 2017, the study group expanded a range of target issues in light of the recent diversity of payment means and started discussions concerning challenges in efforts for promoting cashless settlements and future directions thereof.
METI hereby releases two documents titled: Cashless Vision and API Guidelines for Utilization of Credit Card Data as outcomes of the discussion by the study group.

*Note: An application programming interface (API) is a specification that facilitates one program to access a function of another program. For example, when a third party attempts to access a function on a system operated by a credit card company, an API of the system works as an entrance port for the third party.

1. Background

Promotion of cashless settlement among the public is expected to bring about a variety of advantages, such as consumer-friendliness in which consumers are not required to bring a large amount of cash while shopping shopping, a smaller risk of people losing cash while carrying it, and improvement of productivity for businesses brought about by saving cash management costs.

In recent years, payment options have been diversifying, as seen by the appearance of new payment services different from the conventional ones offered by credit cards, and a wide variety of payment services is expected to emerge in the near future.

In light of this background, METI established a Study Group for API-based Collaboration Involving Credit Card Utilization in March 2017, and the study group started discussions concerning ideal approaches to advancing API-based collaboration between credit card companies and FinTech companies.

In light of trends and other situations in related fields both inside and outside of Japan, the study group expanded a range of target issues in November 2017. Comprehensive discussions on  ideal approaches to means of payment that satisfy consumer friendliness and those to cashless environments that industrial players and credit-card affiliated stores are likely to accept were also held.

METI hereby releases two documents titled: Cashless Vision and API Guidelines for Utilization of Credit Card Data as outcomes of the discussions by the study group.

2. Key points of the Cashless Vision

The Cashless Vision presents recommendations on the directions of efforts contributing to solving challenges faced by both credit-card affiliated stores and consumers as well as measures in the realization of a cashless society.

  1. Definitions of cashless settlement, etc.
  2. Trends in cashless settlement worldwide
  3. Current situations of cashless settlement in Japan
  4. Directions of actions in light of current situations in Japan and specific measures therefor (proposal)
  5. Future efforts
    • Anticipating the World Expo 2025 in Osaka, Kansai, the study group set a new goal called “Declaration of Payment Reform” in which aim to achieve a higher ratio of consumers who utilize cashless settlement ahead of the scheduled 40% which was already set in the Future Strategy 2017. In addition, the study group will aim to raise this ratio to 80% in the future, the world’s highest level.
    • Under the leadership of a new commission tentatively called “Commission for Promotion of Cashless Settlement,” the industry, academia and government sectors will collaboratively advance efforts under the framework of All-Japan initiatives.

3. Key points of the API Guidelines for Utilization of Credit Card Data

The guidelines present model directions of measures for API specifications, security and protecting credit card users. Through this effort, Japan will aim to encourage businesses involved in API-based collaboration to enhance efficiency in providing credit card services and aim to create an environment in which users are able to enjoy shopping in a safe and secure manner.

  1. Harmonization of API specifications
  2. Measures for security and protection of users
  3. Relationship with regulations under the related laws, other guidelines, etc.
  4. Future efforts

Release date

April 11, 2018

Division in Charge

Consumer Affairs, Distribution and Retail Industry Division, Commerce and Service Industry Policy Group

Related website

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
Copyright Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. All Rights Reserved.