A sad day for digital importers; JCB pulls out of the US.

For a little over a decade now, I’ve been carrying around a JCB (“Japan Credit Bureau”) credit card, and it has been an endless source of amusement when using it to pay for goods and services.  I’ve occasionally gotten to use the 1-2 punch of handing a cashier a card they don’t recognize, and then handing them a (British) passport when they ask for identification.


But, apart from its use as a payment method that virtually nobody in this country recognizes, it’s had a much more useful trait – most companies in Japan recognize it as a domestic card and not a filthy American credit card.  Which means that, for the last decade or so, I’ve been able to buy off the Japanese PSN and iTunes stores without the bother of hunting down points cards from dodgy resellers, and I have bought a ton of PSOne classics and other games that never made it out of the country.

It’s also been very helpful on the occasions I visit Japan, because it’s instantly recognized everywhere.

Sadly, that ends in a few months.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked by this.  JCB only ever offered the card to people living in a few states (CA, OR, HI, maybe one or two more) and I’m pretty sure that it was just a status symbol for the company.  They sent me a Nintendo DS a few years ago for winning some sort of sweepstakes I didn’t even know I’d entered, and I’m pretty sure that wiped out any amount of interest they’ve made out of me over the years.

I’ve already gone and topped-up my PSN account to the maximum balance  (Y20000) which should last me a while.  So, really, this will only be a pain for iTunes on the occasion I want to buy songs from the Japanese store.  I don’t think there’s any way to preload your balance there.  Maybe the dodgy code resellers have gotten less dodgy over the years?

I’m just generally vexed about the whole thing.  I have rather enjoyed having my own version of Ford Prefect’s American Express card, and that’s being taken from me.  If you need me, I will be sitting in a corner and fuming.

(OK, maybe not so much with the fuming.)

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