JR East, NTT DoCoMo, and NTT DATA to Jointly Promote Suica e-Money Service

East Japan Railway Company (JR East), NTT DoCoMo, Inc. (DoCoMo) and NTT DATA Corporation (NTT DATA) announced today that they have agreed to jointly promote JR East’s Suica® e-money service. Through this joint venture, JR East aims to expand the number of retail shops and companies accepting Suica e-money, which will make it more convenient and attract more users. For DoCoMo, the expansion of the Suica e-money service will encourage use of its “Osaifu-Keitai” mobile phones equipped with contactless IC cards.

Wireless Japan Expo: Video Report

Wireless Japan Expo: Video ReportLast week’s Wireless Japan Expo was a bit of an anticipointment. With the exception of a few prototype handsets from NEC, WWJ had already reported on much of the technology on display. DoCoMo and Panasonic highlighted the fun of their customizable 901i handsets. One area included display-only custom covers by Japanese artists and designers. MoBaHo!, that joint venture of 88 Japanese and Korean companies beaming 40 channels of video, audio and data programming to handheld receivers, cell phones and car-mounted tuners from their satellite mostly recycled displays from last autumn’s show. Though not really new, Fuji Film’s pocket-sized infrared printer PiVi drew in expo goers with photos next to a mock-up of the Japan National Soccer Team. KDDI showcased their newly announced tie-up with Felica (and Suica) via demonstrations of au 3G phones zipping through JR ticket gates and playing games on Sega arcade machines equipped with Felica readers.

Our guest reporter, freshman media major Christy Nakada on loan from her university in California demonstrates the Felica/au connection at the KDDI booth and brings the PiVi into focus from Fuji in this 4-minute peek-a-boo video from the event.

KDDI Announces EZ-Felica Wallet Cell Phone Service

KDDI Announces EZ-Felica Wallet Cell Phone serviceFresh off the news wire [Jpn], KDDI just announced they are ready to roll out wallet-enabled handsets for their new “EZ-Felica” campaign scheduled to hit the Ginza sometime this September. According to the company, they are street-testing the new BREW-based application program which will offer digital cash together with a range of membership services including loyalty points for registered users. But wait.. that’s not all! KDDI also announced that from January 2006, the company will enable customers to use “Mobility Suica” in partnership with East Japan Railway Company (JR) as well. It seems like only yesterday (actually, December 2003) we reported “KDDI Joins FeliCa Bandwagon”.

Suica IC Cards Make a Splash with Electronic Posters

Suica IC Cards Make a Splash with Electronic PostersJapanese IC cards have pop posters grooving to a techno beat this summer. Fans of hunky J-Pop star Shogo Hamada just flash their Suica rechargeable RFID train commuter card at specially designed high-tech poster displays around town to reserve a copy of his newest album, My First Love. Japanese are calling this new interactive ad medium, “Denki Posta” (electronic posters). Popping up in all sorts of variations, most have plasma-display panels and flat-panel speakers.

Suica’s IC card technology has been a runaway hit in Japan. More than ten million are in circulation around the country and the service has brought in numerous retail partners for cashless payments at shops and restaurants within the stations. It was developed by Sony together with Japan Railways East Corporation and will soon migrate from hands to handsets. In January 2006, DoCoMo plans to combine their Felica smart card e-money platform with the Suica commuter card into a series of mobile handsets.

Vodafone & bitWallet agree on Mobile FeliCa

Vodafone K.K. and bitWallet, Inc. announced today they would partner to provide Edy electronic money services to Vodafone K.K. Mobile FeliCa-compatible handsets, which are scheduled for an initial target date of October 2005. The main items of the agreement include bitWallet providing Edy electronic money clearing services to Vodafone K.K. Mobile FeliCa-compatible handsets, Edy e-money services to start when the handsets launch, and bitWallet will offer Edy e-money applications as Vodafone-compatible V-applis (these would be downloadable Java apps).

Credit Cards Go Wireless on DoCoMo Felica Handsets

Credit Cards Go Wireless on DoCoMo Felica HandsetsImpulse credit card purchases are set to take a frighteningly mobile turn in Japan after NTT DoCoMo and the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group ended several days of speculation to formally announce a strategic business and capital alliance to bring credit card payments onto DoCoMo’s Felica IC-equipped handsets. DoCoMo plans to invest nearly 100 billion yen in the venture, acquiring 34 percent of Sumitomo Mitsui Card’s (SMC) common shares for approximately 98 billion yen (over $942 million), including new shares to be issued by SMC. The technology will be enable users to swipe their Felica handset in front of a code reader and confirm credit card purchases automatically. No definite rollout date was given.

Sure, it’ll be convenient — but is it secure?

Some of Japan's Cool New Apps

In a telephone interview with a research company in Toronto last night, I was asked for examples of the coolest new applications or services in Japan. Without a doubt, I answered, mobile music and the Chaku Uta Full song download services are really eating up packet bandwidth. The week before last, KDDI announced that the cumulative downloads for EZ Chaku Uta Full (provided via the CDMA 1X EV-DO WIN network) had surpassed 3 million as of 1 March 2005, less than four months after the 19 November 2004 launch. The company added that the 1 million and 2 million milestones were achieved on 5 January and 5 February, respectively.

From the WWJ Newsletter. Log in to read full article. To receive WWJ’s free email newsletter, subscribe here.

Japan Rail, DoCoMo State Mobile Suica Plans

Mobile Suica Launch VideoRecently, East Japan Rail (JR East) and NTT DoCoMo held a press event in Tokyo to announce the January 2006 start of “Mobile Suica” which will allow i-mode phones to serve as train tickets. WWJ’s Gail Nakada filed her report here and today’s video program gives you a ring-side seat to learn how Big D and JR plan to win over the hearts, minds and wallets of millions of mobile-phone using commuters (and most of them are). As you’re watching today’s press conference, there are several key points to keep in mind. First, until now, it has in fact not been possible to use your phoneas a train ticket in Japan. Despite all the live demonstrations, trade show hypeand media speculation around FeliCa, the FeliCa-based Suica cards used by JR andthe FeliCa-based i-mode handsets sold by DoCoMo have been incompatible. Yes, you could use your FeliCa handsets to buy a ticket, but the phone itself was not the ticket.

Big News from FeliCa and Vodafone Japan Trouble Follow-up

From the WWJ newsletter; This week’s news of lasting importance has to be Tuesday’s joint announcement from Sony, JR East and DoCoMo that DoCoMo’s “Mobile FeliCa” and JR East’s “Suica” epayment systems will be merged into a single “Mobile Suica” service. It hasn’t been easy for consumers to keep track of which device to use, where the cash was coming from (their on-card balance, their on-phone balance or other) and where the payment was going to. (For the full article, access the WWJ Newsletter archives here.)

JR East, NTT DoCoMo, Sony to launch Mobile Suica handsets

Mobile SuicaMass transit meets mobile technology for Tokyo commuters in a new service enabling NTT DoCoMo FeliCa-equipped i-mode cell phones to function as Suica JR train commuter cards. The new service will combine DoCoMo’s FeliCa smart card e-money platform with the Suica IC train commuter card (both using technology developed by Sony) into one mobile handset that can simultaneously pay for train tickets, commuter passes, airline and movie tickets and purchases at any of 14,000 — and counting — retailers.