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10 years e-cash and mobile payments

Mobile phone payments with RFID start in Japan in 2003

i-Mode mobile payments started in Japan in 1999

10 years ago – 1999 – the global mobile payment revolution started in Japan: with i-mode introducing an essentially Japan-only highly successful micropayment system for online content and brick-and-mortar based m-commerce, and SONY’s Edy starting e-cash experiments in Tokyo’s Osaki district. In 2003 SONY’s Felica IC semiconductor chips were combined with mobile phones to introduce the first “wallet phones” (“saifu keitai”). Today the majority of mobile phones in Japan are wallet phones.

For the last 10 years, Japan has been a laboratory for mobile payments and e-cash, conducting a test on 125 million population on which mobile payment and e-cash models work and which don’t. -> We can all learn from Japan’s 10 years of experimentation which mobile payment business models are likely to work, and which might fail!

Edy stands for Euro, Dollar, Yen… expressing the hope for global success – Intel Capital believes in this success and has invested in the company that runs Edy: BitWallet (initially backed by SONY and now acquired by Rakuten).

Which are the most effective e-cash systems?

While SONY has distributed the largest number of cards, in our view the world’s largest (by payment volume) and most effective e-cash and mobile payment system is operated by the world’s largest railway company: SUICA and mobile SUICA.

Edy, SUICA and other e-cash usage in Japan
Edy, SUICA and other e-cash usage in Japan

the world’s most effective railway company in our view also operates the world’s most effective mobile commerce system: The Express Card / EX-IC system.

Although we only have official figures for FY2008, we estimate that in 2009 about US$ 3 billion worth of train tickets are sold via JR-Tokai’s Express card system for a single train line – and much of this by m-commerce via mobile phone. JR-Tokai’s Express card system is an entirely different system than the i-Phone – but an equally friendly and efficient design solution. (For a case study of JR-Tokai’s Express card system download our report).

Mobile payment for Shinkansen high-speed trains in Japan
Mobile payment for Shinkansen high-speed trains in Japan

Mobile payment Japan, e-money and mobile credit report:

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