A few weeks ago, Google announced that it will introduce Google Wallet, a way to pay for goods using just your mobile phone, this summer. This application uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology so that users can pay just by waving their phones in front of a reader at a checkout.

NTT DCOMO Osaifu Keitai

NTT DOCOMO Osaifu Keitai Illustration

It has been reported that the program will initially be launched in New York and San Francisco before being extended more widely across the US. Google wrote on their blog that:

Because Google Wallet is a mobile app, it will do more than a regular wallet ever could. You’ll be able to store your credit cards, offers, loyalty cards and gift cards, but without the bulk. When you tap to pay, your phone will also automatically redeem offers and earn loyalty points for you. Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet.


As someone used to seeing this technology at work day in day out here in Japan, I find it interesting to see Google lagging behind Japan’s NTT DoCoMo by a solid 7 years in this path.

NTT DoCoMo launched the Osaifu Keitai (Wallet Mobile), which is  based on Sony’s FeliCa card,  in July 2004.  It supports both proximity payments in shops that have a FeliCa chip reader and remote (online) payments.

Apart from electronic money, other services of the Osaifu Keitai include identity card, loyalty card, fare collection of public transport (railways, buses, and airplanes), credit card etc.

The CGAP blog post of 2009 reported that as of January 2006, there were over 10 million subscribers of Osaifu-Keitai with compatible handsets.  As of 2008, there were more than 29 million subscribers (NTT DoCoMo 2008). The mobile wallet application was accepted at more than 640,000 stores (Contactless News 2008).