What's interesting about the DoCoMo mobile payment technology referenced in
this recent story, and what differentiates it from many other m-payment initiatives operating elsewhere in the world, is that the Osaifu Keitai (literal translation = wallet cell phone) system acts like a contacless smart card, using Son'y FeLiCa
technology. (Other Japanese mobile networks now offer FeLiCa phones and payment services too).
So you can just wave the phone in front of a reader to initiate a payment. This is similar to the contactless cards that have proven widely popular in many countries for public transport systems. But outside Japan, and a few other places such as Singapore,
until recently the phone and contactless cards haven't come together.
If you're at a point of sale, you ideally want any non-cash transaction to be as fast and simple as possible. And waving your phone in front of a reader is pretty fast - even if you've set your phone up to require a PIN entry to finalise the transaction.
I think this is a much more convenient arrangement than many other mobile payment initiatives that require the sending of text messages, or use of a mobile web browser to initiate the payment (though these are great for person-to-person transfers, bill payments
Japanese consumers have had their convenient contactless payment method for a number of years. Other countries are now catching up and there are a number of pilots underway using the Near Field Communication (NFC) standard for contactless mobile payments.
This month, fourteen mobile operators around the world teamed up to create a standard payment system, called "Pay-Buy Mobile", using the NFC standard.
At the Digital Money Forum event in London on March 28-29, there are a series of presentations on the progress of NFC adoption, from a handset, mobile operator and legal perspective.
I'm looking forward to hearing more about how NFC will translate into real services. And as a London public transport commuter, I'm particularly interested to hear if there's been any talk of linking the mobile phone wallet with metro public transport systems
(London's Oyster Card, for e.g.), such as been done in Japan and China. That would give me one less thing to worry about carrying and losing on the way to and from work.