DoCoMo’s Osaifu keitai (mobile wallet) line of cell phones will soon have their own branded virtual credit card for mobile payments. The iD card (‘i’ as in “i-mode”) will be launched on December 1, 2005 and will enhance existing credit card services by giving credit card owners the option of making payments via a DoCoMo wallet phone linked to the card, in addition to conventional payments with their plastic credit card. That means charges through the phone will automatically be deducted from the user’s designated credit card. Just waving the phones in front of dedicated reader/writers at stores will start the payment process.
Applications for iD will be accepted through credit card issuers. Once the application is accepted, user scan download an i-appli application into their handset and choose various settings for using the service. Initially the Tl 902i series (coming soon) and 901iS series models, plus the F901iC, N901iC, SH901iC, F900iC, SH506iC, SO506iC and P506iC models will be compatible with iD. Unfortunately DoCoMo has a caveat, compatibility will vary depending on the card issuer, which means users must contact their card company for details.
No signature will be required for purchases under a certain amount, while purchases exceeding that amount will require the user to enter a password via a device linked to the reader/writer.
Earlier in the year DoCoMo’s tied up with the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group to bring credit card payments to smart card-equipped handsets. DoCoMo planned to invest nearly 100 bn yen in that venture, acquiring 34 percent of Sumitomo Mitsui Card’s (SMC) common shares for approximately 98 bn yen (over $942 million), including new shares to be issued by SMC.
The mobile wallet system may add more functionality to Japanese handsets but it is not increasing voice or data traffic over NTT phone lines. Faced with market saturation and number portability, DoCoMo is counting on an incremental share in credit payments made by Osaifu Ketiai phones to generate revenue. Full PR here.