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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cash Equals Contraband

現金イコール禁制品

Money is so strictly controlled in Japan that sending cash and receiving it feels like dealing in an illicit substance.

Cash Equals Contraband


I got a call from my credit card company the other day. There wasn't enough money in the bank account my credit card payments come out of.

I got the bank account number from the credit card company to pay the money into, and went and withdrew the amount in cash from another bank account I have.

I figured that paying it in cash straight into the ATM of the credit card company's bank would be cheaper than doing it from the ATM of my bank.

With cash in hand, I went over to the branch of the credit card company's bank, and used the ATM to send the money to the prescribed account number. However, a notice came up on the screen saying that because the amount was greater than 100,000 yen, I would have to do it through a teller.

I went over to the bank information clerk, where they give you a number for waiting for the teller service. She asked what I wanted to do, and I explained.

To my surprise, she told me that (1) to deposit cash into the credit card company's account, I would need to provide proof of identity, with a photo, and (2) that it was actually cheaper to do it from my own bank's ATM and that (3) there was no amount restriction if I did it from my own bank's ATM.

So I went back to my bank, put the cash back into my account, and did a furikomi (transfer) of the money to the credit card company. No hassles.

Dealing with cash in Japan is like dealing in contraband. The government is clearly very nervous about cash transactions being used for dishonest purposes, so, even when withdrawing your own money, you have to vouch for it every step of the way.

Viva Bitcoin!

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