WW-150 -- DoCoMo and Sony Spearhead Creation of Virtual Wallet

J@pan Inc presents the Wireless Watch Newsletter:


Commentary on Japan's Wireless World

Wireless Watch Newsletter
Issue No. 150
Wednesday December 28, 2005

++ Viewpoint: DoCoMo and Sony Spearhead Creation of Virtual Wallet

How many times have you been in an unfamiliar area and tried
to find a good Chinese restaurant, bar or beauty salon nearby?
Naviblog is Japan's first location-based blog search service.
It uses your mobile's location functionality to check your
location, then runs a search on the requested search category.
With one click, check the icons to see store details, browse
blogs of others who have been there before you, or blog that
store from your mobile!
Naviblog. The 1-Click Search Engine.
See http://www.naviblog.jp for more.

++ Viewpoint: DoCoMo and Sony Spearhead Creation of Virtual Wallet

NTT DoCoMo and Sony have taken the lead to create a mobile
Felica-based virtual wallet, with all new phones coming with
pre-installed Edy. The combination of mobile Internet and Felica
enables many new applications. For example, through i-mode,
theater tickets can be searched and purchased online and
downloaded on the phone. At the theater gate, the tickets are
read from the handset. All Nippon Airways, Japan's second
largest airline, introduced i-mode-based check-in services for
international flights. Passengers can reserve seats, purchase
air tickets, and even pre-check-in. All information is stored on
the Felica card in the handset. Once at the airport, the passenger
receives a boarding pass by simply waving the phone across
an automatic check-in machine.

However, Felica is still in its infancy. Large investments are required
to install reader-writers at sales points and ticket gates. As with
i-mode, DoCoMo has done a great job creating the right
eco-system. All stakeholders -- mobile carriers, banks,
retail outlets and consumers -- are able to benefit from the
new virtual wallet services. Ticketing agency PIA, credit card
company JCB, BitWallet, JR East, Japan Airlines, All Nippon
Airways, and convenience stores am/pm and Circle-K have
already joined the party.

Still others will have to join the party before the virtual wallet
replaces the actual purse. They include such prominent companies
as 7-Eleven and Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd. (operator of eight subway lines).

The usage of virtual wallets will get a boost from JR East's
inauguration of Suica services on mobile phones in January 2006.
That will enable more than 10 million Suica users to commute
paying by mobile phone. They will constitute an interesting
user-base for DoCoMo and its partners to further drive mobile
virtual wallet services.

Though Felica is a mature technology, its rollout is still in the infant
stage. Meanwhile, Felica debit cards similar to Suica are being
introduced to public transport systems in Delhi, Shenzhen,
Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. The next step,
the introduction of virtual wallet phones, will require close
cooperation between carriers, handset makers, banks,
retail shops and public transport operators -- a complex
eco-system that will take years to build at a considerable

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Written by Arjen van Blokland; Edited by Burritt Sabin

(C) Copyright 2005 Japan Inc Communications KK. All Rights Reserved.