Using Credit Card Spending to Fix Japan's Dodgy Consumption Data

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Private consumption is 56 percent of Japan’s GDP, so understanding where people are spending and what they’re buying is essential to have a clear picture of what’s going on in the world’s third-biggest economy. That’s true not just for the government, but also for businesses and people.

But the government data on spending by households has long been seen as suspect, with a preponderance of older people in the survey, and under-reporting of online shopping at places like Inc. or Rakuten Inc.

 To fill that gap, a venture firm has started using credit card transaction data to show consumption trends. Nowcast Inc., a financial-technology venture formed in 2015 out of the University of Tokyo, started releasing new consumption indicators created with JCB Co., a Japanese credit card issuer.

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Ruiz Asri