APPLE PAY VS JAPAN’S OSAIFU-KEITAI
Eurotechnology Japan is led by its founder Dr. Gerhard Fasol. He has worked in and with the academic, research, and business communities of Japan’s high-tech sector for over 25 years. Eurotechnology Japan is a technology-focused business development, strategy, and M&A advisory and implementation firm.
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What can we learn from 10+ years of mobile payments in Japan?
Apple Pay mobile payments start on September 19, 2014
Japan’s Osaifu keitai mobile payments started on July 10, 2004, after public testing during December 2003 – June 2004
Two different types of Docomo‘s “Osaifu-Keitai“, manufactured by Panasonic and by SONY, were publicly tested by 5000 customers between December 2003 – June 2004. Docomo’s Oseifu keitai mobile payment system builds on SUICA NFC stored fare cards, which JR-East brought to market in Tokyo on November 18, 2001, after long years of development and public testing, where the author of this newsletter was one of the testers.
Thus Apple-Pay was developed building on almost 15 years of NFC payments in high volumes in Japan.
Therefore, those who wish to make predictions about how the Apple-Pay market is likely to develop can use the experience gained during 15 years in Japan.
There are also some open questions, which will probably be answered after we can all check out Apple-Pay after September 19, 2014. One point which is very important is the speed of transactions – especially in transport applications such as the London or Tokyo Subways.
The speed of NFC mobile payments – and why does it take 10 years to reinvent the wheel? and: what is the speed of Apple-Pay transactions? faster than 100 milliSeconds? or 500+ milliSeconds?
On July 17, 2012 The Wallstreet Journal reported, that as far as Transport for London is concerned, there is no viable mobile payment solution available at this time, because to the knowledge of Transport for London at that time, mobile payment transactions take longer than 500 milli-seconds, which is too slow for Transport for London requirements (e.g at Picadilly station during the rush hour).
Interestingly, in Japan “mobile SUICA” payments have been used in Tokyo successfully since January 28, 2006 at the world’s busiest railway stations including Shinjuku and Shibuya – arguably more busy than Piccadilly Circus in rush hour, with transaction speeds faster than 100 milli-seconds – according to The Wallstreet Journal, London Transport did not even know about this.
Read in more detail about this issue in our blog here: “Mobile payments: 10 years to reinvent the wheel?"
Therefore one obvious question we have about Apple-Pay is whether the speed of Apple-Pay transactions is in the 500+ milli-second range – unacceptable for Transport for London, or faster than 100 milli-seconds – as is Tokyo’s state of the art since January 28, 2006… I guess we will soon learn the answer to this question.
Why is it that Japan does not capture the global value which Apple and Apple-Developers will create and capture now?
Japan developed mobile payments, e-cash, credit cards in mobile phones and at least as much functionality as Apple-Pay and an open API and a mobile payment and e-cash developer ecosystem over the last 10-15 years.
Why does Japan leave all the global value on the table for Apple and Apple developers?
Actually, I personally had discussions over the last 15 years will all major players in Japan’s mobile payment and e-cash field, crowned by 1-1 discussions with Docomo’s CEO at that time – Dr. Tachikawa – I wrote about one of these meetings in The Wallstreet Journal, of course without mentioning the details: “Wallstreet Journal leadership question of the week – Japanese leadership?"
Essentially my conclusion at that time, and today is, that Japanese companies never showed any interest at all in developing global business to capture the global value of mobile payments, e-cash and the related businesses. Japanese companies did not even try, and were not even interested in discussing the globalization of mobile payment and e-cash technologies and business models.
All opportunities are not lost of course for Japanese companies in the mobile payments and e-cash fields, but most if not all of Japan’s early-mover advantage has evaporated with Apple-Pay.
In business, sometimes the second or third mover can be commercially more successful than the first mover, but it will be very very hard even for a united Japan Inc to stand up to Apple.
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