Arab Youth Survey 2018: Gloomy times for young people in the Levant - and the outlook isn't any brighter

Research reveals a deep sense of pessimism among the youth of Lebanon and Jordan

Young people across the region have a deep conviction that their countries have moved in the wrong direction over the past decade – and nowhere is this more the case than the Levant.

An overwhelming sense of pessimism about the future emerges in countries like Lebanon and Jordan.

Asked if they felt their country was going in the right direction, nearly nine out of 10 questioned in the Levant said they believed the opposite.

This compares with 91 per cent in the GCC who are happy with the ways things are going, a view shared by slightly over half in North African countries, which include Libya and Egypt.

Only one in a hundred in the Levant sample thought things were moving in a positive direction.

One of those was Sergio Eid, a 20-year-old music student in Beirut whose optimism was a result of the long postponed parliamentary election.

"This is the first time in nine years that people have voted," he said. "Before we had two years without a president. Now we have one."

More typical was the reaction of Abeer Knio, 24, a clinical dietician who recently returned to Lebanon after living most of her life in the UAE.

Part of the problem was that her generation felt obliged to support the same political leaders as their parents, she said.

As a Lebanese Sunni, she said she had voted for Saad Hariri. "I'm supporting him because his father changed many things," Abeer said, referring to former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

"We hope things will change," she said. "Look at the trash in the streets. We want change."

"There are no jobs."

Jalal Khary, 23, a second year media student said. "I believe that when I graduate I won't have a job."

Dana Traboulsi. A 24-year-old software developer added: "People don't have hope - we don't think anything will change because of the way things have been going."

The negative outlook has deepened sharply over the past two years, which have seen a growing refugee crisis caused by the civil war in Syria. Both Lebanon and Jordan have absorbed millions of Syrian refugees.

In 2016, a majority of young people in the Levant – 51 per cent – expressed optimism about the future. In the 12 months that followed, this dropped to 14 per cent, and just 13 per cent in the latest survey.

The same is true of the choice young people made when asked the question: “Our best days are …” Only 26 per cent picked the answer “Ahead of us.” Nearly three quarters opted for “behind us.”

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Sunil John, chief executive of Asda'a Burson-Marsteller, which compiles the youth survey, said it was, "shocking ... to see the amount of bleakness and the lack of enthusiasm" in this part of the region.

"There are a lot of things that bring people together – language, culture, religion, food, but there is so much that divides us as well. And this is a problem that governments need to look at squarely in the eye," he said.

Back in Beirut, Tala Turk, 24, described her fellow Lebanese as "hopeless".

"They have the power to change things, but they don't believe it," she said.

But she was hopeful that at least in the long term, some of the new faces standing in the latest elections might make a difference in the future. "Even if it's a 10 per cent change, it's a start," she said.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

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Queen

Nicki Minaj

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Queen

Nicki Minaj

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Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

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Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

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Nicki Minaj

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Queen

Nicki Minaj

(Young Money/Cash Money)

Queen

Nicki Minaj

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Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World by Michael Ignatieff
Harvard University Press

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

Start-up hopes to end Japan's love affair with cash

Across most of Asia, people pay for taxi rides, restaurant meals and merchandise with smartphone-readable barcodes — except in Japan, where cash still rules. Now, as the country’s biggest web companies race to dominate the payments market, one Tokyo-based startup says it has a fighting chance to win with its QR app.

Origami had a head start when it introduced a QR-code payment service in late 2015 and has since signed up fast-food chain KFC, Tokyo’s largest cab company Nihon Kotsu and convenience store operator Lawson. The company raised $66 million in September to expand nationwide and plans to more than double its staff of about 100 employees, says founder Yoshiki Yasui.

Origami is betting that stores, which until now relied on direct mail and email newsletters, will pay for the ability to reach customers on their smartphones. For example, a hair salon using Origami’s payment app would be able to send a message to past customers with a coupon for their next haircut.

Quick Response codes, the dotted squares that can be read by smartphone cameras, were invented in the 1990s by a unit of Toyota Motor to track automotive parts. But when the Japanese pioneered digital payments almost two decades ago with contactless cards for train fares, they chose the so-called near-field communications technology. The high cost of rolling out NFC payments, convenient ATMs and a culture where lost wallets are often returned have all been cited as reasons why cash remains king in the archipelago. In China, however, QR codes dominate.

Cashless payments, which includes credit cards, accounted for just 20 per cent of total consumer spending in Japan during 2016, compared with 60 per cent in China and 89 per cent in South Korea, according to a report by the Bank of Japan.

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