Sony is trying to get in on the mPayment game in Southeast Asia with its FeliCa technology. And it’s doing it by following the tracks that are already in place – public transit.
FeliCa is an NFC-based microchip technology that enables contactless digital payments by being embedded into other devices such as smartphones or payment cards. It’s already in use in Hong Kong’s transit system via the city’s Octopus system, and in Japan via Suica and Pasmo railway cards, a product of Sony’s collaboration with East Japan Railway Co. and mobile operator NTT Docomo, which has proven forward-thinking in its approach to new technology. Now Sony is aiming to bring FeliCa to transit payment systems in Jakarta and Vietnam.
So why transit? According to one of the company’s managers, transit systems are a stepping stone to commerce, since the introduction of payment cards for commuters often leads to those same payment systems being adopted by the retailers and merchants located in the transit network. Plus, Sony already has its technology in place in these settings.
Whether FeliCa can ultimately compete on the same level as mPayment giant Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, which doesn’t require merchants to have NFC technology in place, is another question. But Sony’s investment in expansion is a sign of the rise of alternative mPayment systems around the world.