SK Telecom today announced a milestone joint partnership with Japan's top operators - KDDI and SOFTBANK MOBILE - to run the first-ever field tests for commercializing a seamless Near Field Communication (NFC)-based mobile payment between Korea and Japan.
The three mobile carriers plan to complete mutual compatibility tests using NFC technology as a common standard within the first half of the year. The companies will further cooperate to ensure mobile payment, mobile coupons, and other mobile financial services are in full operation between the two countries by the end of the year.
Under this trial, SK Telecom and its partners will test a variety of mobile payment services using trial handsets embedded with NFC technology so as to enhance compatibility. The mobile payment services include MasterCard® PayPassTM in Japan, SK Telecom's mobile money T Cash in Korea, and NFC-applied 'Smart Poster' service in both countries.
Jin-Woo Lee, Senior Vice President of Open Collaboration Support Office at SK Telecom said, "This partnership is very significant for mobile users in Korea and Japan. For the first time, users will experience seamless and convenient NFC-based mobile payment between two countries. For SK Telecom, this is the first step to expand our industry-leading mobile financial services, such as T Cash, to customers in Japan and later to other countries. We will further develop these mobile payment services into an open commerce platform, and include new services such as mobile commerce and mobile advertising. Our goal is to spread the benefits of this mobile payment platform for not only consumers, but also small-and-medium size enterprises."
NFC-based mobile payment service to be available in both countries within this year
Last July, SK Telecom and its partners signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to affirm their collaboration on the use of NFC technology in mobile payment. Since then, the companies have worked closely leading to the first trials of NFC mobile payment between the two countries.
The aim of the trial test is to establish mutual compatibility between countries using NFC as a common international standard instead of existing local Korean or Japanese mobile financial service methods. Currently in Korea, telecommunication companies provide mobile financial services such as credit cards, public transportation, stock trading and banking using a finance-enabled USIM chip called the 'Combi Card'. While Japan's finance service utilizes a self-developed method called 'Felica' by installing a second chip, apart from the USIM, within the mobile device.
Once fully implemented, the new NFC-based mobile payment service will allow tourists from both countries to use their very own mobile phone loaded with mobile credit cards to make purchases more conveniently while in Korea or Japan. For instance, tourists will be able to take advantage of special discounts in duty free shops by easily downloading mobile coupons on their phones. Also, Japanese tourists will be able to use Korea's mobile transportation money T Cash, and pay for public transportation fares via their mobile phone. In addition, 'Smart Poster' service will allow tourists to receive information on the specific item, location or event by simply placing one's mobile phone on a poster or map with an NFC tag. Likewise, Korean tourists will also be able to enjoy mobile tourism in Japan.
Aims to further cooperate with mobile carriers in other global markets while joining efforts in the domestic market
Following the completion of the trial run, SK Telecom hopes to expand its mobile wallet service - which provides mobile credit card, mobile public transportation card, mobile coupons, mobile membership cards in a wallet-like application - by applying NFC technology and linking it with various advertisement platforms and mobile commerce services. The company also aims to further promote mutual cooperation on expansion of NFC payment services with partners in Europe or the United States, creating the early stages of what soon could become a unified global mobile payment service environment.
On February 1, SK Telecom introduced its first phone with built-in with NFC function. The company aims to continue promoting mobile payment by launching a diverse line-up of NFC-enabled smartphones throughout the year. To speed up the adoption of mobile payment based on NFC technology, SK Telecom said its NFC-based mobile phones can also work with the large number of Combi Card readers currently in use in Korea.
Last January, to take part in collaborative efforts to promote mobile payment in Korea, SK Telecom also formed a consultative body with four other telecommunication and card companies in Korea - KT, Shinhan Card, Samsung Card and Mastercard®.