South Korean operator SK Telecom is partnering with Japanese carriers KDDI and SoftBank Mobile on development of a mobile payment system using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The three operators have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop an interoperable service available throughout both countries. The initiative builds on existing but incompatible contactless payment services currently in use in the two countries (Combi Card – a financial service running off a USIM card – in Korea, and the FeliCa mobile wallet product in Japan).
“The signing companies plan to offer a new mobile NFC solution operable on handsets embedded with an NFC card with RFID function,” notes a statement from SKT. “When the NFC- based payment system roll-out is completed, NFC phone users in Korea and Japan will be able to make mobile transactions after a simple downloading of a mobile payment application to their phones. Plus, various services - mobile coupons, membership discounts and mobile gift vouchers– already in use in Korean and Japanese markets will also be available via NFC handsets. Customers will be able to seamlessly use the convenient payment service as well as additional mobile services without any service interruptions or geographical limitations... Such an endeavour among the mobile companies in Korea and Japan started from the consensus on the need for a mutually compatible mobile payment market.” NFC is widely regarded as a technology set to take the mobile payment market mainstream. NFC chips can communicate with contactless readers so users can make financial transactions over short distances, for instance using a debit or credit card to buy small items in a convenience store or a ticket on public transport. NFC handsets are expected to become available later this year
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