NTT DoCoMo to launch mobile wallet service

NTT DoCoMo Inc. plans to launch a mobile wallet service in July that will combine electronic money, loyalty card, credit card and transportation pass functions into compatible cellular handsets, it said Wednesday. The service will be available on cellular telephones with embedded smart cards based on the Felica system.

Felica was developed by Sony Corp. and systems based on the near-field smart card technology are already in use in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore for public transport and electronic cash systems. Last year NTT DoCoMo and Sony formed a joint venture, Felica Networks Inc., to work on a version of the system for use in cell phones.

Felica uses short-range radio to communicate with a receiver and needs to be brought within a few centimeters of the receiver to work.

Trials of the system are already under way and the commercial launch will happen in early July when the first of four cellular handsets to include the technology is scheduled to go on sale, said Takeshi Natsuno, managing director of NTT DoCoMo’s I-mode planning department, at a Tokyo news conference on Wednesday.

The handsets are three models in the company’s second generation (2G) line from Panasonic Mobile Communications Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp. and Sony Corp., and one third generation (3G) handset from Fujitsu Ltd.

Each of the handsets will come ready to use the Edy electronic cash system, which is run by the BitWallet Inc. joint venture headed by Sony and NTT DoCoMo. Around 9,000 shops in Japan currently accept payments using Edy from customers with Felica-based payment cards. Users of the new handsets will have a chance to try it out by spending

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