Visa International, Nippon Shinpan, Aeon Credit Service, OMC Card, and NTT DoCoMo announced that they have agreed to commercialize credit card settlements using mobile phones, and that they will start a trial service soon. The mobile phones designated for the trial service are NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode-supporting 504i series and 504iS series that have the infrared communication function to download Java applications.
For the trial starting in June, 3,000 Nippon Shinpan Visa card members will be recruited as monitors, and about 500 member shops will be equipped with infrared receivers. The monitors download the Java application for settlement containing their credit card information to their mobile phones. They run the Java application at shop fronts to establish infrared communication between their mobile phones and the card readers in the shops. CONTINUE
The service will use Visa’s “Infrared Financial Messaging” system, and establishes communication between the i-Appli running on the cell phone and the merchant’s terminal via IR. A year ago, I was quite bullish on this sort of practical mobile commerce, but my sense today is that it won’t compete well in view of the bitWallet “Edy” contactless IC money system (to be launched in later this year). The Edy system is fast, convenient, and merely requires that the contactless IC chip (mounted on a card, on a cell phone, etc.) be swiped within a few centimeters of the terminal reader; it’s already hugely popular as used in the “Suica” train pass system. In contrast IR is comparatively limited since it requires the two devices’ IR ports to be more or less lined up (it’s a line of sight technology – just like your TV remote control). Still, this may turn into an interesting niche as Edy is a debit systems while this is the first example of a mobile Java-based credit card payment service.