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Sony, NXP Announce Mobile Wallet JV

Technology companies and mobile operators joined forces on Monday to plan a global standard for electronic wallets in mobile phones. Sony Corp. from Japan and Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors said they will create a joint venture, to be established by the middle of next year, that will plan, develop, produce and market a secure chip that will include both companies’ contactless chip card formats: Mifare and FeliCa.

Japan Cell-phone-accessible ATMs Coming

Cell-phone ATMsWWJ’s Lawrence Cosh-Ishii, our director of digital media and resident video and mobile guru, was in Tokyo this afternoon wrapping up a long day and heading for a few frosty Kirin lagers when he spotted this headline at a news kiosk. Normally, when we latch onto breaking Japan mobile news, we go into hypernewsroom mode, working the phones, Googling the keywords and pinging folks in the know to get as full and in-depth a report as we can — and get the gen onto the site pronto for our loyal WWJ community.

Today, in view of the fact that Tokyo’s Friday Happy Hour is already in progress, we decided to employ a little mobile Internet magic ourselves and get the info to you as directly as we can: Lars grabbed a snap with his trusty Sharp 3G camera keitai and fired it into the WWJ newsroom for more-or-less instant posting.

Oh yes: the news. Looks like Japanese mobilers will be able to access Mitsui Sumitomo ATMs using their phone starting this fall. Looks like the transaction will occur via the FeliCa IC chip. You’ll probably just have to set the phone on a little alcove in the machine and press some keys. More details when we get them. Have a great weekend and happy ‘Beer O’Clock’ wherever you are!

Major Mobile Commerce Trials Announced

Major Mobile Commerce Trials AnnouncedA group of major m-commerce companies announced a large-scale U.S. trial last week to include contactless payment, mobile content and premium arena services at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The companies claim the trial will be the first large-scale test of next-generation mobile-phone applications in North America. The grouping includes Chase, Cingular Wireless, Nokia, Philips, Visa USA and others. The contactless payment functionality will be based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology first developed by Sony and Philips. Other NFC trials are underway in Germany and France.

Wireless Watchers will know that the Sony/Philips NFC technology is also powering the super-successful “FeliCa”-branded mobile contactless payment services in Japan and has been adopted by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Vodafone as the de facto market standard for m-commerce, e-wallets, transportation and other peer-to-peer data transfer services. Sony first deployed NFC on the Octopus card in Hong Kong in 1997 and rolled their mobile handset trial ran in Japan in December 2003 — see WWJ video here. Today, over 7 million FeliCa-enabled phones have already been sold by DoCoMo alone.

One might think the two-year jump on deployment and commercial experience, not to mention brand equity, in Japan would motivate Sony to transplant an obvious success story from Tokyo to markets elsewhere. Instead, it looks like the wheel is being reinvented all over again.

Samsung Plans NCF Function

Samsung and Philips announced they are teaming up to incorporate Near-Field Communication technology in future cellphone models from Samsung, giving users the ability to use their phones to make payments. Incorporating an NFC chip from Philips in Samsung’s phones will effectively turn the handsets into contactless smart cards, with the ability to make payments, according to a joint statement. The phones could also be used as a key card to enter a building, for example, this is the same technology, by Sony, that powers mobile FeliCa by in Japan.

Mobile FeliCa Trial Launch: Video Report

Mobile FeliCa Trial Launch: Video ReportWireless Watch Japan attended NTT DoCoMo’s December 15 press conference demonstrating the first phones to feature the Sony developed “Felica” peer-to-peer payment system. To debit the cash stored on the phone’s IC chip, all you do is swipe the handset in front of a reader; more cash can be downloaded via the i-mode network. The trial, using 2,500 each of the N504iC and SO504iC handsets (engineered by NEC and Sony) will run from today and until mid-2004, when full commercial service is expected to start. DoCoMo have lined up 27 e-payment service providers, including banks, convenience stores, TV broadcasters, game software publishers, and a retail ticketing outlet. There are already 17 million Japanese happily using Felica-based IC cards for train tickets and convenience store payments, many of whom have – surprise! – cell phones. We think the synergy and revenue potential of the two technologies is obvious – and so do DoCoMo’s accountants. Watch our first-on-the Web video report from Monday’s press event – and rethink your i-mode forecasts. Full Program Run-time 3:00

Sony FeliCa Gets Near Field Boost

Sony announced today that the 13.56 MHz Near Field (NF) Communication technology that’s been under wraps with Royal Philips Electronics has got green lights from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) under the ISO/IEC IS 18092 standard. So now Philips and Sony cards can talk to each other, taking FeliCa –or what it’s now calling the NFC Chips — to cellies, cameras and… knowing Sony, just about anything it can to talk to the Europeans.