Instead of using NFC – similarly to its Apple Pay service in North America, Europe and Australia – the iPhone maker will opt for a Sony-built technology called FeliCa that currently dominates the mobile tap-to-pay market in Japan.
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With this move, Apple is looking to offer customers in Japan a quick and easy way of using their iPhones for public transport payments. The feature will also be widely supported at various vending machines, convenient stores and retailers across the country.
Ditching NFC in favor of FeliCa makes sense. According to Bloomberg, Japan has a total of 1.9 million payment terminals that support the standard. In comparison, research shows that the US and the UK combined had a little over 1.6 million NFC-supported terminals back in 2015.
Another advantage of using FeliCa is that the technology processes transactions much faster than NFC as it does not require approval by banks and other third parties.
Rumour has it that Apple will have three different iPhones in its new lineup. It will be interesting to see whether all three models will offer FeliCa support.