If you have ever used Japan’s famous train network, then you are probably familiar with the technology of Takamisawa Cybernetics.
Established in 1969, Takamisawa Cybernetics is a leading manufacturer of automatic ticket vending machines, automatic platform doors and turnstiles used in train stations across Japan. The Japanese firm also supplies mechatronics systems designed to handle tickets, bills, coins and cards, as well as specific system machines designed for applications such as disaster prevention, measurement equipment, security gates and bicycle parking lots.
Today, Takamisawa Cybernetics is developing new innovations for a cashless society and a post-pandemic world, while also continuing to spread its cash and coin-based machinery to overseas markets such as China and Southeast Asia.
The coronavirus pandemic has no doubt accelerated the global shift to a cashless society. In Denmark and Sweden, almost 80% of all payments are now cashless, but countries like Japan, Italy and Spain have been much slower to adopt. With this in mind, Takamisawa Cybernetics president Kazuo Takamisawa believes that supplying coin-handling systems will continue to be an important part of the business for the company, even in China, where demand for coin-based machinery remains high despite the fact that the Chinese market is now mainly cashless.
“I do believe that cashless is something that is going to continue to expand here in Japan, but I also think that in order for us to be completely cashless it will take time. I think there needs to be a balance struck between having both options. So, therefore, there will be a need for advancements in technology for both elements,” he says.
“Currently what is most important when it comes to really supporting a cashless society is to ensure that the machines we have installed, such as the automatic ticket vending machines and security systems, are equipped for cashless transactions. I think that the closest way we have been able to provide our support for that is through the credit card payment system. The percentage of cashless payments in Japan is about 20-30%. When you go a little bit deeper, 70% of that cashless element is credit cards. One element we have introduced is our turnstile equipped for VISA touch card payments, which was born out of a collaboration with the railway companies.”
Having cemented its reputation in Japan, Takamisawa Cybernetics took its industry-leading technology to China, where it has sold around 22,000 units to date. “The reason our coin systems were installed in 2010 and became such a huge hit in China comes down to a number of different reasons,” explains Mr. Takamisawa. “One is the high level our systems have in terms of counterfeit detection. Second is the ability to insert a number of different denominations of coins at one time, which is very different from the old system of one coin at a time. Finally, it is possible to recycle the money you put in and receive it back as change. I think this is our company’s strength; the ability to really pursue the greatest technology when it comes to our products and to continually improve upon our technologies. We are a company that takes pride in our ability to constantly improve our technology and evolve.”
This ability to constantly evolve its technology has seen Takamisawa Cybernetics develop new solutions, such as its touch-free security gates using sensor-based technology. “Our strategy in that market is to ensure that we have a variety of different products, diversify the machines, and put efforts into making designs that look aesthetically pleasing,” adds Mr. Takamisawa. “Many security gates have the same shape at the entrance and exit. We customized this according to the design of the building itself, and produced a security gate with different stylish shapes for the entrance and exit. For that reason, we have been highly appraised and one of our gates won a Good Design Award.”
Moving forward, the company’s strategy is to take the business model that has been so successful in China and move it to Southeast Asia as a whole, while developing new partnerships with local firms. “As far as Takamisawa Cybernetics' evolution in the future, developing business overseas is what we are really looking to do,” says Mr. Takamisawa. “That isn’t limited to coin-handling systems, and we are really excited to build partnerships with local companies overseas. We really want to understand the needs of local markets and the best way to achieve that is through local partnerships.”