[Dave Birch] Someone after my own heart writes from Tokyo to say that as more deals are thrashed out to allow interoperability and a single contactless payments standard starts to look a realistic possibility, the Japanese could be facing a future where anyone without electronic money or the desire to embrace technology faces becoming a second-class citizen? "Ugh – real money? No thanks, it’s filthy".

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The pace of digital money development is Japan seems to be accelerating, which is why I keep coming back to review it again and again.  DoCoMo (ie, the mobile phone company, not the banks) is still in the forefront of the Japanese digital money revolution.  It has 52 million subscribers and 20 million of them already have handsets with "osaifu-keitai" — portable wallet — functionality built in.  This allows them phone to function as an EDY e-purse, DCMX credit card, train ticket and so on, all through the convenient contactless interface.  The DCMX credit card now has 1.5 million users. DoCoMo also has 100,000 POS terminals in place in Japan that allow customers to use the portable wallet functionality of their phones, and it expects to have 150,000 in place by the end of next month.  And they’re going to keep going.  As the investment site Motley Fool says, "It’s important for the company to continue building out the network effects here because the financial success for DoCoMo is not in the phone sales, but in the transactions".

I wonder how long it will be before the prevailing mental model of mobile operator additional revenues in Europe shifts from dreary "content is king" plays (or should I say, "content demonstrably isn’t king" plays such as Telefonica’s multi-billion write-down on Big Brother format keepers Endemol) to something based around transactional markets and the value-added services built on those markets?  The equivalent European technology platform (ie, mobile and NFC) seems to be gaining ground, with yet more trials and pilots underway already.  Perhaps the paradigm shift is near.

My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public. [posted with ecto]

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