According to this survey from goo Research and reported on by japan.internet.com a very significant threshold has been crossed, with the majority of Japanese now carrying an electronic cash-capable device, be it either in a credit card form factor or in a mobile phone, according to the third regular electronic cash survey.
Between the 12th and 17th of September 2008 1,072 members of the goo Research monitor panel completed an online private questionnaire. 53.6% of the sample were male, 15.7% in their teens, 18.4% in their twenties, 21.9% in their thirties, 16.1% in their forties, and 27.9% aged fifty or older.
I have for one out of the three legs of my journey to work a ICOCA card, JR West’s version of the Suica railway pass. However, mine is used exclusively as a season ticket only; I haven’t used it as cash for at least two years. Work also allows us to use our RFID-enabled company ID to pay for lunch and at the shop, but that’s not really electronic cash, just a quick credit card payment function.
My wife uses her mobile phone a lot, however, at shops in and around the stations, but that’s technically not electronic cash as she has it linked to her credit card. I don’t know how much this blurring of roles affected the answers to the survey, however, but Q1SQ1 suggests that most people are charging their cards with cash, not having a direct link to a credit card or bank account.