Intel Capital, Intel Corp.’s investment division, announced at a press conference held in Tokyo that it has invested in Bitwallet, Inc., a service provider of e-money EDY. Intel Capital has bought convertible bonds worth 5 billion jpy. According to the announcement Intel plans to contribute to the penetration of electronic money services not only in Japan but also throughout the world. Bitwallet plans to allocate the investment to procure reader/writer terminals to be used at Edy affiliated stores, and terminals to be used for payment business and by major distributors.
This is significant — Bitwallet is the joint venture established by DoCoMo, Sony and more than 35 banks, travel agencies, technology companies, etc. Bitwallet now has a banking license in Japan and serves as the e-money cash issuer and payment settlement operator. This investment from Intel VC — one of the first from an outside pure-VC-capital-growth-seeking partner into the JV — means that someone outside Japan also sees the huge potential in Felica/IC cash payments that DoCoMo and KDDI also see.
The number of payments made by Edy reached 110 million in 2005; as of April 2006, the numbers of total issuance (including cards and mobile phone handsets with Edy function) and affiliated stores have reached about 17 million and 31,000, respectively; and the number of mobile phone handsets equipped with Edy function has exceeded 3 million units. Continue>>