The mobile payments market in Japan

Covershot: The Mobile Payments Market in JapanNFC mobile payments have been a reality in Japan since the launch in 2004 of FeliCa Networks, a joint venture between Sony and mobile network operator NTT Docomo — and long before the introduction of global standards for NFC technology or the rise of the smartphone. In this eight-page paper, Sony’s Masayuki Takezawa and Katsuyuki Teruyama explain the drivers behind Japan’s early adoption of NFC payments.

The authors examine the technology behind the NFC-F variant of NFC, which is most widely used in the country, and the transition to a globally compatible infrastructure that has been on-going since the rise of the smartphone and, especially, the introduction of the iPhone to Japan in 2008.

The article begins by explaining the rise of contactless prepaid cards in Japan, used for both transportation ticketing and for purchases in retail stores. It then explains how these prepaid card issuers quickly made their move onto mobile phones — and how growth in mobile payments was stalled by the popularity of the iPhone which, unlike locally produced mobile phones, only began to support NFC mobile payments in Japan in 2016.

The authors then explain the unique features of Apple Pay in Japan, which enable iPhone users to make payments with existing prepaid card services, and how Android Pay has been implemented in Japan to also take advantage of the country’s existing contactless payments infrastructure.

The article then concludes with a look to the future of mobile payments in Japan as plans are put in place to incorporate international standards to promote “an environment where users easily can make payments anywhere in the world.”

This eight-page paper has been written by Masayuki Takezawa, senior marketing communications manager for Sony’s NFC/FeliCa business, and technical expert Katsuyuki Teruyama and forms part of NFC World’s What’s New in Payments report.

How to access this paper

This eight-page document is available free of charge to NFC World Knowledge Centre members (PDF format, 1.8MB).

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This item is part of the Mobile Payments Knowledge Centre.