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Last Updated: Monday, 27 October, 2003, 05:57 GMT
Japan plans mobile phone pay plan
Japanese mobile user
DoCoMo is hoping to follow Korea's success with smartcards
Japanese shoppers should soon be able to use their mobile phones to pay for goods and services thanks to a deal between phone firm NTT DoCoMo and electronics giant Sony.

The two companies announced on Monday that they will set up a joint venture to make smartcards for DoCoMo's mobile phones.

Sony already has a technology called FeliCa, which lets consumers pay bills and buy goods at convenience stores simply by holding a chip-equipped card near a card-reading device.

The two now plan to rework the technology to fit in mobile phones, allowing users either to make small payments through their phone bills or pass on costs to bank accounts or credit cards.

The joint venture hopes to launch a test service by December, with a full rollout tentatively fixed for March 2005.

Japanese newspapers first revealed the plans a week ago, although both companies downplayed the reports at the time.

But even then the idea came as little surprise to observers.

The Japanese are among the most phone-obsessed people in the world, and DoCoMo has led the way in making it possible for users to buy goods and services through web-like pages viewed on their phones.

And a system similar to the one DoCoMo and Sony are planning is already thriving in South Korea.

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