Japan's Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co. Ltd. discontinued acceptance of magnetic stripe cards on its 12 bus lines and now requires all passengers to pay for tickets with contactless cards or cash.

The regional transportation agency launched the mag-stripe card program 17 years ago. It ended April 1.

Aside from Nishi-Nippon's Nimoca card, passengers can also use Suica, Sugoca and Hayakaken cards, said Soh Matsuki, a spokesman for the agency.

The Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau launched Hayakaken for the city's subway users in March 2009, around the same time West Japan Railway Co. Ltd. introduced Sugoca. Nishi-Nippon began supporting Nimoca cards on its regional network in May 2008, seven years after East Japan Railway Co. Ltd. launched Suica.

All four cards use the Felica chip, a contactless-payment technology Sony Corp. developed for use in stores with card readers for small purchases.

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