TOKYO Major Japanese electronic-payment players announced an agreement this week to share a common platform for offering their services.
The agreement means the Japanese e-payment system will be integrated with Sony Corp.'s Felica smart card technology. Felica is a contactless IC card technology operating at 13.56 MHz and delivering a data rate of 212 Kb/s.
The partners are East Japan Railway Co., NTT Docomo, Inc., JCB Co., Ltd. and bitWallet Inc. Each is deploying its own e-payment services. The different branded services require different reader and writer devices. Retailers have been pressing for a common terminal to save on cost and space.
JR East is the world's largest passenger railway company, serving about 16 millions passengers daily. It has already issued 17.5 million e-ticket cards through its Suica service, 13.6 million of which have e-payment functions.
Docomo is Japan's top mobile carrier, serving more than 51 million subscribers. It started a dedicated credit card service last April and also offers prepaid e-wallet functions on 15.5 million mobile phones.
JCB is Japan's largest credit card company with 57.7 million card members in Japan and 20 other countries. It proposed an e-pay service called QuicPay last October. The service is supported by other mobile carriers, including Vodafone.
BitWallet launched a prepaid e-payment service in 2001 called Edy and has issued 21 million cards.
JR East and Docomo have launched a joint venture company to provide infrastructure, developing reader/writer devices, setting up networks and data centers and common platform management.
The new platform is scheduled to begin commercial operation under the Suica and Docomo's iD brands in January 2007, with QuicPay and Edy added later. The four companies are seeking other partners to use the common platform.