Namco announced a new alternative to pre-paid smart cards for arcades in Japan, the Namcoin, a proprietary pre-paid coin with a built-in IC chip. Gamers can charge the Namcoin with ¥1,000, ¥2,000 and ¥5,000 bills and use it with most machines in Namco's arcade locations, inserting them into Coin Selectors that also accept standard cash.

The Namcoin was developed as a joint project between Namco and smart card company Asahi Seiko. It's designed to be used for only one day, but arcade goers can have however much money is left on the coin returned to them as real cash.

Gaming news site Andriasang.com says that the Namcoin is "capable of operating not just at the standard ¥100 per play of most arcade games, but also down to the ¥10 level", enabling arcade operators to hold pricing promotions, such as offering discounts based off time and day.

Namco is currently testing the pre-paid coin at one its locations, planning to deploy them to additional arcades in Japan this fall. The company hasn't revealed yet whether it plans to bring the Namcoin to other markets. You can see a diagram (with Japanese text) for how the Namcoin will work below: