Launch of a Pilot Test for Facial Recognition Payment on Public Transportation in Nagano Prefecture:
Experience Hands-Free Travel with a Japan-first Technology!

May 10, 2023
Marubeni Corporation

Marubeni Corporation (hereinafter, “Marubeni”) has launched the first pilot test in Japan for payment using facial recognition, whereby facial recognition technology is linked with a mobile app-based prepaid card. The test starts from May 10, 2023, on a section of the Nagano-Matsumoto express bus route operated by Alpico Transportation Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, “Alpico Transportation”) .

Bus used in pilot test Bus used in pilot test

Facial recognition demonstration on a tablet device Facial recognition demonstration on a tablet device

Marubeni has focused on facial recognition technology, which has recently seen significant improvements in accuracy, as part of its response to the trend in recent years of transition to a contactless and cashless society. The company’s efforts to develop a facial recognition payment platform which connects facial recognition technology and payment functions are intended to help address various social issues and contribute to the enhancement of user convenience.

For this pilot test, the facial recognition payment platform was developed by Marubeni Network Solutions Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, “M-Nets”), R.D.Works Co., Ltd.  (hereinafter, “R.D.Works”) and Aplus Co., Ltd. (hereinafter,  “Aplus”). More details of the part played by the companies in the pilot can be found in the Company Roles table below.

Marubeni has previously conducted pilot tests using facial recognition technology for stadium entrance and university attendance and confirmed its high accuracy. In this pilot test, the faces of users who have pre-registered their facial data will be identified in the fixed-fare section of the route, and the payment will be automatically deducted from the individual's app-based prepaid card. Marubeni will then confirm the successful integration and operation of the payment process. Based on the results of this pilot test, Marubeni aims to commercialize facial recognition payment at an early stage not only for public transportation but also in other sectors where there is a high demand for hands-free services.

Users will be required to download, install, register, and charge the app-based prepaid card in advance. When boarding the bus, users only need to briefly look at the tablet device installed in the vehicle for facial recognition, eliminating the need to take out a smartphone or cash. This allows fare settlement even if both hands of users are occupied, or if they have forgotten a smartphone or do not have any cash on their person. For more details on the pilot test, please visit our website at https://www.marubeni-network.com/kaoninsho-alpico/.

Target Route Nagano-Matsumoto Express Bus
Target Sections 1.Nagano Area ⇔ Nagano Highway Azumino
2.Nagano Area ⇔ Matsumoto Interchange Front, Matsumoto Bus Terminal,Matsumoto Joint Gov. Building
Target Period May 10, 2023 - July 14, 2023

Note: The duration and target routes may change depending on the progress of the trial.
Note: Face recognition payment cannot be used outside the target sections.
Note: For information about the target routes, please visit the Alpico Transportation website at https://www.alpico.co.jp/en/.

Company Roles:  
Marubeni Project oversight and business feasibility study
Alpico Transportation Operation of buses equipped with facial recognition payment technology
M-Nets Development of facial recognition payment technology platform
R.D.Works Development of facial recognition technology
Aplus Development of payment function
Company Profiles:  
Alpico Transportation
Company Name Alpico Transportation Co., Ltd.
Address 2-1-1 Igawa Castle, Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture
Representative Fuminari Kobayashi
Established March 1920
Main Businesses  1. Railways business
2. Bus service business
3. Charter bus business
4. Travel business
5. Food & retail business (service area business)
6. Real estate business
7. Advertising business
Company Name Marubeni Network Solutions Co., Ltd.
Address 2-11-5 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Igarashi Building
Representative Toru Kobayashi
Established September 1999
Main Businesses  1. Network outsourcing business
2. Mobile network business
3. Operation services business
Company Name R.D.Works Co., Ltd.
Address 4-20-3 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Yebisu Garden Place tower 18F
Representative Hideki Saito
Established August 2003
Main Businesses  1. Consultation of strategy, finance, supply chain and technology
2. Providing system integration and an AI platform
3. Domestic sales agent for the facial recognition product, “Saffe”
Company Name Aplus Co., Ltd.
Address 2-4-3 Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Nihonbashi Muromachi Nomura Building
Representative Takayuki Shimada
Established April 2009
Main Businesses  1. Shopping credit business
2. Card business
3. Payment business