Japan is a country that has always been associated with leading the way technologically with businesses like sony.com having a long history of entertainment breakthroughs from the Walkman to the Playstation.

It may also be the country that has brought us the biggest potential shake-up in the world of finance we have yet seen in the form of cryptocurrency. But, whether or not Satoshi Nakamoto really did invent Bitcoin, it’s the height of irony that Japan remains wedded to using cash. As anyone who has ever visited the country will know only too well, most retailers prefer this method of payment and this has led to an estimated 80% of all retail transactions involving the handing over of bills and coins.

Visitors to Japan also quickly discover that the country’s shop keepers are highly skilled at counting out change and handing back the correct amount – no mean feat when a US dollar is worth about 110 yen. In fact, most claim that a cash transaction is faster than a card-based one to carry out. The fact that there are no banking transaction fees to be paid also makes it the more appealing option for the retailers.

In this respect, Japan is a complete outlier in an area of the world that has for a long time not just embracing card and contactless payment but positively encouraging it. For example, in South Korea, there are tax deductions for credit card purchases and it is a legal requirement for certain businesses to accept them.

But, against this backdrop, several businesses in Japan have leapfrogged to the next stage of payment technology in the form of Bitcoins. According to zenmarket.jp, the cryptocurrency can be used to buy a range of goods and services ranging from camera equipment and watches and from restaurant meals to haircuts.

There is also an ever-increasing number of online casinos listed on Bitcoin-casino.jp. For players new to the idea of how to gamble with Bitcoin, this is also a comprehensive information source. As well as explaining how to obtain the cryptocurrency to pay, there is also plenty of advice about choosing the right casinos and an explanation of the benefits of Bitcoin gambling in general.

Against this backdrop, the Japanese government has expressed a commitment to creating a more cashless economy and it seems that they are acting on a couple of fronts. There is talk of following the South Korean model and offering a discount of between 2% and 5% for purchases made by card from small to medium-sized businesses.

Alongside this, there have been reports that the country’s Digital Currency Forum is aiming to create its own version of a digital currency to be launched in 2023. What form this takes will be determined by a feasibility study currently being carried out.

But it’s by no means out of the question that, if and when it does launch, the Japanese love of new technology could quickly make it a favored method of payment over and above card and contactless – and it’s certainly something that all the world’s major banks will be watching with great interest.