Docomo and KT have agreed to develop a roaming service that will enable Japanese mobile subscribers equipped with NFC-based smartphones to use a pre-paid electronic money service in South Korea.
A service that enables a roaming subscriber to access a local mobile money service when in a foreign country is unusual. The two operators will jointly develop this and other NFC-based services by the end of the first half of financial year 2013 (end-September 2013).
The two operators say they will also consider other NFC-based cross-border services including mobile payments, promotional coupons and ticketing for transport services. Although not stated, by “mobile payments” the operators presumably mean payments with a credit or debit card. The new electronic money service, which is pre-paid, would also enable payments at certain locations.
The new service will enable a Japanese subscriber with an NFC-based smartphone to use an e-money service in South Korea called Cashbee. The Docomo/KT service was developed with eB Card, the company behind Cashbee which has five million users in the country. Cashbee enables users to make payments in locations such as department stores, convenience stores and transport facilities such as underground trains and buses. Although not stated, presumably the operators’ service will enable roaming subscribers to make pre-paid payments in such locations.
The current announcement follows an initial agreement back in February 2011 between the two operators on NFC roaming. At the time, the two partners said they were aiming to launch services, including mobile payments, ticketing and coupons, “from around the end of 2012”, so the launch will be later than originally anticipated.