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My new credit card, my mobile.

October 17, 2006
NTT DoCoMo in Japan has over 860,000 mobile phones that have an IC chip embedded within them to allow their users to make credit card purchases in stores. Whilst the service has been running since April this year, the volume of users attracted to the service is quite impressive.
Using the Sony FeliCA system, new users are credited with around ten thousand yen (approx US$83) to use in over 60.000 payment terminals around the country. Users can extend their credit up to two hundred thousand Yen if they link to an existing credit card.
The interesting aspect of this service is the clever way NTT DoCoMo is diversifying into non-voice revenue streams.
The IC chip has many other uses as well as credit card payments such as,
  • electronic money for shopping
  • A transport e-ticket (eg trains & airlines)
  • ID system for access into buildings
  • ToruCa service for getting information or coupons sent to your phone (eg restaurant discounts or menus sent directly to phone).
  • membership card for clubs, gyms or hotels

Japan has always been a leader in deploying these types of services, but then the Japanese have a unique mobile topology and society.

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