FeliCa Networks signs deal with Samsung for Japan’s move to NFC

The joint venture between Sony and carrier NTT Docomo, which runs Japan’s Osaifu-Keitai mobile wallet service, has signed a deal with Samsung for the development of a new chip solution that will provide consumers with phones which work with both NFC services and Japan’s existing mobile payments infrastructure.

Felica Networks and Samsung
PARTNERS: New chips will mean merchants don’t have to replace terminals

Samsung Electronics and FeliCa Networks, the joint venture between Sony and Japanese carrier NTT Docomo that runs Japan’s Osaifu-Keitai mobile wallet service, have partnered to develop a new mobile phone chip solution.

The new NFC-SAM chip technology is designed to support both NFC and Japan’s existing mobile payments infrastructure, allowing the country to transition smoothly to NFC without the need to replace the existing installed base of merchant and transportation ticketing terminals. Currently, 70m Japanese consumers are equipped with a phone that supports the more than one hundred services available on the Osaifu-Keitai platform.

All of Japan’s mobile network operators are already committed to moving to NFC. In December, NTT Docomo, KDDI and Softbank Mobile set up the Japan Mobile NFC Consortium with the aim of working together to coordinate the switchover from Osaifu-Keitai to NFC. KDDI has already launched its first NFC service, Softbank plans a commercial launch this year and NTT Docomo plans to make its move at the end of 2012.

The new strategic partnership between Samsung and FeliCa Networks will see the electronics giant providing mobile phone chip solutions that incorporate both a FeliCa Secure Application Module (SAM) and an NFC controller. The NFC controller will provide support for NFC pairing and sharing applications as well as for ISO 14443 Type A, B and FeliCa card emulation. Secure NFC services will be delivered in conjunction with an NFC SIM.

How Felica and NFC will coexist
IN IT TOGETHER: How FeliCa and NFC will coexist in mobile phones. Click to enlarge.

SAM chips are currently embedded in Japanese Osaifu-Keitai mobile phones to provide the ability to make contactless mobile payments. They do not, however, support tag reading and writing or peer-to-peer functionality and, because they also do not conform to international standards, they can only be used in the domestic market.

By combining both technologies, the new NFC-SAMs “will not only have higher capabilities but also full interoperability with existing infrastructures and services delivered on Osaifu-Keitai,” say the partners. The first of the new NFC-SAMs are expected to reach the market in 2013.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Samsung, a leading semiconductor company, to introduce new NFC-SAM IC solution based on our expertise and experience in development of mobile contactless technology and platform operation since 2004,” says Hirotaka Sugiyama, president of FeliCa Networks. “Integration of both technologies will contribute to further development of mobile NFC business across the globe in the near future. We intend to introduce a variety of NFC solutions in addition to NFC-SAM IC chips to contribute to bringing up consumers’ convenience in the world.”

“The collaborative efforts combining FeliCa Networks’ excellent operation of the FeliCa platform and Samsung’s world-class semiconductor design and process technology will generate greater value for the mobile payment market,” adds Samsung’s Taehoon Kim.

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