Tap to ride Fukuoka Subway from all stations – 6 brands OK including Visa and UnionPay

The Fukuoka City Subway is currently conducting a verification test about riding with the contactless payments of credit cards. From March 27, 2023 (Monday), the acceptable stations will be expanded to all stations on all lines, and the payment brands that can be used will be added.

Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau type 1000N EMU operated on the Subway Kuko Line and the Hakozaki Line (ninochan555/PIXTA)
Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau type 1000N EMU operated on the Subway Kuko Line and the Hakozaki Line (ninochan555/PIXTA)

Along with the opening of the Nanakuma Line extension

The “Fukuoka City Demonstration Experiment Full Support Project” developed by Fukuoka City is an initiative to solicit projects from all over Japan that use cutting-edge technology to solve social problems, and provide total support while providing a venue for demonstration. Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co., Ltd. (head office: Koto City, Tokyo) led the proposal for a demonstration project related to passage through subway ticket gates, and it was adopted. Nippon Signal (head office: Chiyoda City, Tokyo), QUADRAC (head office: Minato City, Tokyo), and Visa Worldwide Japan (head office: Chiyoda City, Tokyo) are also jointly participating.

The demonstration experiment started in May 2022 at a total of seven stations between Tenjin and Fukuoka Airport on the Airport Line and between Nakasukawabata and Gofukumachi on the Hakozaki Line. At the target stations, the ticket gates or station staff corridors are equipped with dedicated reading units that support contactless payments. When you hold a compatible credit card over them, the normal adult fare will be automatically settled, allowing you to get on and off the subway without any advance procedures or charging.

It is said that a lot of users have expressed their desire to expand the number of acceptable stations. With the opening of the Nanakuma Line to Hakata Station on March 27, 2023 (Mon), the number of target stations will be expanded to 36 stations on all three lines. It can also be used at the newly opened Kushidajinja-mae Station. The introduction of contactless payments to all stations will be the first subway operator in Japan. At the same time, in order to improv e convenience, the compatible payment brands will be expanded to a total of six types: “JCB”, “American Express”, “Diners Club”, “DISCOVER” and “UnionPay”, in addition to the existing “Visa”. This is the first time in Japan that it allows to ride trains through contactless payments with Diners, DISCOVER and UnionPay brands (See the chart below such as the transit maps where you can use the contactless payments).

Fukuoka City Subway’s contactless payments riding service

Frequently used by “Active 20-year-olds”

About 80% of the people who have used this service in the demonstration tests so far are residents of the Tokyo metropolitan area, the Kansai area and other areas outside of Fukuoka Prefecture. When compared with card usage statistics, there is also a trend that the percentage of active people who frequently use travel, transportation, entertainment and shopping malls is high.

Sumitomo Mitsui Card said, “Among those who come to Fukuoka from outside the prefecture for travel, there is a tendency, especially among young people, to choose credit cards that can be used without charging, rather than IC cards for transportation that they usually use.”

In addition, cards issued in 38 countries and regions are already in use, and it seems that the use of overseas cards is on the rise after October 2022, when border measures when entering Japan were eased. By the way, South Korea has the most usage records, followed by Thailand, the United States, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Since the number of inbound passengers is expected to recover in earnest, the demonstration period, which was initially set to end February 2023, will be extended to March 31, 2024 (Sun), and the effects will continue to be verified.