Japanese mobile operator KDDI has revealed plans to introduce Near Field Communication (NFC) services to its customers before the end of this month, making it the first carrier in the country to bring a commercial service to market, according to a report from NFC World.
While KDDI will hit the switch over the coming weeks, customers will need to wait a while for things to ramp up. Japan Airlines will begin offering NFC airline tickets and boarding passes from the summer, while KDDI anticipates that other partners — which already include a number of credit card firms and loyalty programs — will increase their offerings from spring.
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Initially the number of supported devices is low, with KDDI’s service only available for the Samsung Galaxy S II only, however the operator will expand support to other phones in the coming months.
KDDI has enlisted a number of firms to help it provide the service, including Toshiba and Gemalto, which have helped develop the dedicated SIM cards, MasterCard, which has ensured its payment system is supported, and local companies Dai Nippon Printing and Toppan Printing.
The move comes one month after a ground-breaking Japan Mobile NFC consortium was founded between the country’s leading operators; KDDI, DoCoMo and Softbank. The partnership was formed to coordinate the introduction of NFC services across the country, and it seems likely that the other two will follow KDDI’s lead in the not too distant future.
NFC has been touted as a service that could heavily shape the future of mobile and it received a huge boost when more than 40 operators from across the world signed up to promote it in their respective regions, following the Mobile World Asia event in November 2011.
It not surprising to see Japan take to NFC quickly, when you consider its telecom heritage — which includes ‘virtual wallet’ services and the pioneering of the mobile Web — and let’s not forget the fact that it has Wi-Fi enabled vending machines, amazing toilets and other technological wizardry.
Clarification: this introduction is the first commercial service in the country from an operator, as NFC has, and does, already exist in Japan in other industries.