TOKYO: Apple’s proud announcement that its new iPhone could be used to buy goods in a single swipe left customers non-plussed in Japan, where mobile contactless payments have been normal fare for a decade.
A type of Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, known in Japan as FeliCa, was introduced to the Japanese mobile market in June 2004 and has been been implanted in almost all phones sold in the country since.
The iPhone has been one of the few chip-less exceptions — something that will change when the new models hit Japanese shelves on September 19.
Ten years ago the charismatic Takeshi Natsuno, who was then multimedia services director of Japanese mobile operator NTT Docomo, extolled the benefits of swapping cash for cell phones.
“When I leave my house in the morning all I take with me is my phone, which lets me do everything — pay, take public transport simply by swiping a special reader in shops, stations or airports,” he said at the time.