Japan: No. 2 Telco in Japan to Sell First Standard NFC Phones
Japan’s No. 2 mobile operator, KDDI, plans to sell the first standard NFC phone in Japan, an NFC version of Samsung’s popular Galaxy S II Android phone. But there will be few places for consumers to use the phone for some time to come, since the vast majority of contactless point-of-sale and transit terminals in Japan support proprietary FeliCa technology from Sony. Japanese mobile operators plan to introduce hybrid NFC phones that support both standard NFC and FeliCa, but not until later in the year. Until then, KDDI subscribers with the NFC-enabled Galaxy S II will be able to tap to pay on at least a few hundred contactless terminals supporting standard contactless technology and MasterCard PayPass payment applications. There will also be NFC tag reading, loyalty applications and airline boarding passes from Japan Airlines. UPDATE: The airline plans to launch what is believed to be the first NFC-enabled boarding passes in October 2012, with the Galaxy S II along with a hybrid phone from Sharp Electronics. END UPDATE. But the first payment applications won’t be available for the NFC-enabled SIMs KDDI will issue until later in the spring or summer. Japan Airlines plans to introduce the airline application in the summer. Tag-reading and loyalty probably will come earlier.
KDDI has been pushing for standard NFC against its larger rival, NTT DoCoMo, which has been leading the roll out of contactless-mobile wallet phones supporting proprietary FeliCa technology from Sony. While standard NFC also supports FeliCa, NFC phones can’t be used on FeliCa terminals in Japan and Japanese consumers can’t use their FeliCa wallet phones on contactless terminals supporting types A and B of the international contactless standard, ISO/IEC 14443. DoCoMo has finally agreed to move to standard NFC and has formed a consortium with KDDI and No. 3 operator Softbank Mobile to coordinate the rollout. This will involve distributing hybrid phones supporting both standard NFC and FeliCa technology, enabling service providers to continue to use the FeliCa terminals. But KDDI wanted to kick off the NFC rollout early with the Galaxy S II, which only supports types A and B of the contactless standard.
* Trusted Service Manager: Defined loosely to include companies or other organizations securely distributing, provisioning and managing applications, generally over the air, on secure elements in NFC mobile phones; or licensing their platforms for this purpose.
N/A: Not available or not applicable.
Last update: Sept. 2012