Sony, DoCoMo Form FeliCa JV

Sony and NTT DoCoMo agree to form a joint venture to develop new services based on phones equipped with Sony's FeliCa contactless IC card technology

October 27, 2003

3 Min Read

TOKYO -- Sony Corporation and NTT DoCoMo, Inc. have agreed to form a Joint Venture Company to develop new services based on mobile phones equipped with Sony's contactless IC Card technology FeliCaR. The Joint Venture is targeted for establishment in January 2004. Discussions between Sony and DoCoMo will continue to finalize the details of this company which will be named: FeliCa Networks, Inc.

Sony began developing FeliCa in 1988, and business use of the technology became widespread following the deployment of the technology in Hong Kong transport systems in 1997. FeliCa is now used in JR East's SuicaR system, as well as in a number of transport systems around the world. Other applications include the "Edy" electronic money service, the "eLIO" online credit service and various company/organizational ID security systems. At present, 38 million cards using FeliCa chips have been issued worldwide.

DoCoMo launched its mobile internet service i-modeR in 1999, and has gained approximately 40 million subscribers to date. DoCoMo has constantly aimed to upgrade the service by adding various new technologies to enhance interface with other devices, including infrared communications and two-dimensional bar codes. The enhancement of the i-mode handset interface is one primary example of DoCoMo's goal to promote mobile multimedia services by linking i-mode and real businesses.

The Joint Venture will develop the technology for a new IC chip, tentatively named "mobile FeliCa IC", that will integrate mobile phones with the FeliCa technology. The Joint Venture will then implement production and sales licensing agreements with chip manufacturers, and work to create a platform whereby content providers can offer mobile services that feature both flexibility and security. The mobile FeliCa IC and service platform will be developed in an open environment and provided to the widest possible range of mobile telecommunications operators and content providers.

Through this platform, customers will be able to use their mobile phones to enjoy services previously only available with IC cards, such as transport system payments, electronic money and personal ID security. In addition, use of the telecom infrastructure for mobile phones will also enable new capabilities, such as the direct downloading of value (prepaid money) and additional content-based data. Potential applications of the technology could include electronic ticketing and online credit, which would provide convenience and added value for both providers and customers.

DoCoMo plans to launch a test service for mobile phones equipped with the mobile FeliCa IC chip in December of this year. FOMAR and movaR FeliCa equipped phones are scheduled to go on sale in Japan by the end of Fiscal Year 2004.

Through the operations of this new company, Sony and DoCoMo aim to strengthen the market and also create new technological opportunities within the mobile phone sector. At the same time, they will energetically promote the FeliCa technology service platform in order to become a pillar of the rapidly emerging world of contactless IC services.

Outline of Joint Venture Based on Agreement
Company Name: FeliCa Networks, Inc.
President: Soichi Kawachi (scheduled)
Capital: Approx. 6 billion yen (to be finalized)
Investment Ratio: Sony 60%, NTT DoCoMo 40%
Employees: Approx. 90
Main Business: Mobile FeliCa IC chip development and production/sales licensing. Operation of mobile FeliCa service platform

Sony Corp.

NTT DoCoMo Inc.

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