Consumer Payment Card News

Nagano ATMs

VISA said yesterday it has now placed 17 international ATMs on and off the venues at the ‘1998 Olympic Winter Games’ in Nagano, Japan. Of the 130,000 ATMs throughout Japan, only 700 accept international cards and just a handful of those are located in the Nagano metro area. The Japanese ATM system utilizes an invisible mag stripe on the front of the card instead of the standard, visible stripe on the back of the card. VISA says twelve of the seventeen international ATMs are located in Olympic Games’ venues, and since VISA is the exclusive payment system for the ‘Winter Games’, the venue ATMs will only accept VISA cards. Proprietary ATM cards and even those with the ‘PLUS’ mark will not work in the venue ATMs.

Visitors heading to the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, might have faced some extra challenges when it came time to use their payment cards to acquire cash at ATMs in Japan, but fortunately many of those concerns already have been addressed by Visa.

To ensure that Visa cardholders traveling to the Winter Games experience maximum convenience and card acceptance, Visa has engaged in a very active program to install international ATMs in strategic locations throughout the Olympic venues and areas in and around Nagano to accept foreign payment cards. Due to the unique nature of the Japanese ATM system, only about 700 ATMs accept international cards across the country, and just a handful of those were in the Nagano area. Thanks to Visa’s efforts, there are now 17 international ATMs both on and off the venues at the Games.

For the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Visa has employed an aggressive program to meet the needs of international visitors to the area. In addition to the five international ATMs which currently are in place in the Nagano City area, Visa will have an additional 12 Visa Olympic international ATMs installed in Olympic Games’ venues and in nearby Nagano City hotels.

Bring your PIN!

Since Visa is the exclusive payment system and the official card of the Nagano Olympic Winter Games, only Visa cards will be accepted in the Olympic venues to obtain cash at the ATMs and by venue vendors to purchase tickets, memorabilia, food and other items. Proprietary ATM cards, even those with the PLUS mark, will not be accepted in the venues. It is therefore important that visitors know the PIN (Personal Identification Number) on their Visa cards if they wish to acquire cash from an ATM. Of course, purchases may be made at merchant locations without a PIN and international ATMs offsite will accept both Visa and proprietary ATM cards.

Because the Japanese ATM system operates in a unique fashion, most visitors must find and use an international ATM to receive cash while in Japan. This is due to the non-standard arrangement of the magnetic stripe (or mag stripe) on Japanese cards. While the Japanese market has the world’s densest ATM penetration with some 130,000 ATMs, only cards issued within Japan can be accepted at most ATMs.

Unlike most international cards, Japanese bank cards are issued with an invisible mag strip on the front of each card. This means that at the 130,000 domestic ATMs in Japan, the mag strip “readers” look for the mag stripe at that location and not on the back of the card where it is located on most other international cards issued in other countries. When no mag stripe is found on the front of the card, the domestic ATM rejects the card. To ensure worldwide utility, Visa cards issued in Japan have a mag stripe located both on the front and back.

So that Visa cardholders in Nagano experience maximum convenience and card acceptance, Visa has installed international ATMs in strategic locations throughout the Olympic venues. These are

— Sponsor’s Village, Nagano City
— Olympic Village, Imai, Kawanakajima, Nagano City
— M-Wave, Kite Nagaike, Nagano City
— Big Hat, Wakasato, Nagano City
— White Ring, Mashima, Nagano City
— International Broadcast Center (IBC), Wakasato, Nagano City
— Main Press Center (MPC), Wakasato, Nagano City

International ATMs are also located at three hotels
— Mitsui Garden Hotel
— Hotel Kokusai 21
— Karuizawa Prince Hotel – East Wing

Within the Nagano Prefecture, international ATMs installed by Visa banks
which accept international cards include
— The Visa Customer Service Center, Nagano City
— Olympic Plaza (Bullet Train exit of Nagano Station)
— Hakuba Village (in front of Hakuba Station)
— Nagano City – (2) – East Plaza, in front of Nagano Station
– C1 Building, in front of Nagano Station
— Karuizawa City – Supermarket Yaotoku, Karuizawa
— Matsumoto City – Nijyukki-kan Daiichi Building, in front of Matsumoto
In addition, there are two ATM Supersites at international airports in Tokyo (Narita), and Osaka (Kansai) airport where in-bound passengers can acquire yen at a favorable exchange rate. There also is one other international ATM conveniently located at the Tokyo City Airport Terminal. To avoid further confusion in Nagano, Visa will add a cautionary decal on domestic ATMs to denote domestic use only.
Visa also will be distributing the “ATM Locator Guide – Japan” to inbound international travelers at various locations. This Guide is specifically for ATMs located in Japan and will allow for quick and easy access to the international ATMs. Additional information on ATMs in Japan is available on Visa’s web site on the Internet (

As the world’s best way to pay, Visa is the preferred payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. Visa has more than 70 smart card programs, including 7 million Visa Cash cards, underway in 29 countries and on the Internet. Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. Visa’s 600 million cards, generating US$1 trillion in annual volume, are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including 380,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is

Smart Tips for Travelers to the 1998 Nagano Olympic Winter Games

— Visa recommends cardholders test the PINs on their cards before
leaving home, to ensure that the PIN is valid and that the card is
operational. Many ATMs in Japan have numbers only, so it is important
to choose a PIN based on a combination of numbers, not on the
alphabet, e.g. “32837,” not “DAVES.”

— Visit the Visa Olympic Customer Service Center which is located on
Nagano’s main avenue, the Chuo-Dori, between the Central Square venue
and the Zenkoji Temple. The Center provides easy access for visitors
because of its key location in Nagano City. The toll-free hotline
number is 0120-05-1998.
— The Customer Service Center will assist Visa cardholders and Visa
Travelers Cheque holders with an array of services such as emergency
card replacement, emergency cash disbursement, lost and stolen Visa
card reporting, Visa TravelMoney card replacement and cash
disbursement, Visa Travelers Cheque refunds, and a Visa Olympic
international ATM. Additionally, the Center will provide Visa
merchant information, ATM Locator Guides for Nagano City and
surrounding areas, general Visa cardholder information and assistance,
and general information on Nagano City and the Olympic Games.

— Check the arrival and baggage claim areas at the international
airports for the Visa Global ATM signs. They point the way to
accessible local currency upon arrival in Japan. If a card carries
the emergency replacement feature, Visa will replace the lost card
usually within one working day or less. If a Visa card is lost or
stolen, cardholders can contact the Customer Service Center in Nagano
by dialing the toll-free hotline number at 0120-05-1998.

— Use the safe or security box provided by the hotel for valuables and
do not carry valuables on tours, to the Olympic Games venues, etc.

— Always take charge slips and destroy carbons.

— Always take ATM receipts, they contain valuable account information
which can be used illegally.

— Report lost or stolen Visa Travelers Cheques immediately to the Visa
Customer Service Center in Japan through the toll-free hotline number
at 0120-05-1998. As an alternative, lost or stolen travelers cheques
may also be reported by contacting the international operator at
(0051) and call collect to (44)171-937-8091. A multi-lingual staff is
available to help.

— Manual cash disbursement services is available at these Visa Member
financial institutions
— Hachijuni Bank, 50 branches in Nagano Prefecture
— JA branches in Hakuba, Nozawa, Yamanouchi Shigakogen and
Nagano City.
— Selected branches of three Shinkin Banks (Nagano Shinkin Bank,
Ueda Shinkin Bank, and Matsumoto Shinkin Bank)/

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