Why not use the mobile wallet in Japan? Recommendations of convenient applications!
Have you ever seen a person using the mobile phone instead of cash or IC card to pay at cashiers, ticket gates, convenience stores or stations? What they are using is actually referred as “osaifu-keitai (=mobile wallet)” in Japan. In this article, I am going to introduce the concept of the mobile wallet, the steps of using it, its functions and what you should be aware of when using the mobile wallet.
1. What is osaifu-keitai?
First, let me explain what the meaning osaifu-keitai. Osaifu (お財布) means ‘wallet’ and keitai (携帯) means ‘mobile’ in Japanese, so when these two words are combined together, it means mobile wallet. The mobile wallet is a service that uses a FeliCa chip (IC chip) embedded in the mobile phone, and this service has been often used in countries like China and India etc.
FeliCa is a communication technology for the non-contact type IC card developed by Sony. It is a Japan-specific technology. NTT docomo has made the system development of osaifu-keitai that aims to spread the payment infrastructure by the mobile phone. This system and trademark rights have been licensed to other companies in Japan.
In Japan, there are three main telecommunication companies, including docomo, au and Softbank. You can compare and check which type of osaifu-keitai you prefer to use.
Here are the osaifu-keitai websites of different telecommunication companies:
docomo in Japanese: https://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/service/osaifu/
Softbank in Japanese: http://www.softbank.jp/mobile/service/osaifu-keitai/
2. Steps of using osaifu-keitai
Although there are several types of osaifu-keitai, the steps of using this service are more or less similar.
1) Download the mobile wallet application provided by the company that you choose.
2) Register as a member of the application and set up your account.
3) Use your mobile to touch the osaifu-keitai machine when you pay.
3. What can you do with “osaifu-keitai”?
Just by reading the name of osaifu-keitai (mobile wallet), it already contains the literal meaning, which is to put all the things from the wallet into the mobile phone and you can just use your mobile phone as your wallet. The services of osaifu-keitai are provided in a wide of variety. For example, you can use it to charge electronic money such as Rakuten Edy and Suica, buy various membership cards, point cards issued by different companies, railway tickets and bus passenger aircraft (boarding card), air tickets and so on. Osaifu-keita is not only being used in the online market, but the application is also widely used in various occasions. Osaifu-keitai is designed with basic functions. Even if you were in places where radio waves of the mobile telephone are not available, you can still use this service.
4. What kinds of models are compatible for osaifu-keitai?
It is available in the corresponding models of ®Felica or ®NFC. Home screen or download service of the corresponding application from the application list, and to register and set. Use your mobile phone to touch the mark of FeliCa during the payment. After the application registration and setting up your account, you do not need to launch the app everytime when you use it.
https://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/service/osaifu/compatible_model/（docomo in Japanese）
http://www.softbank.jp/mobile/service/osaifu-keitai/models/ （Softbank in Japanese）
Unfortunately, ®Felica or ®NFC is not installed in iPones. Therefore, if you would like to use osaifu-keitai with iPhone, install the “osaifu link” app and put “osaifu-jacket” (this product is sold separately) on your iPhone and connect the mobile wallet jacket with Bluetooth.
5. The risks of osaifu-keitai
Osaifu-keitai is a platform that provides a myriad of functions in a mobile phone, including the payment function. Therefore, there is a risk that your personal information may lost and be stolen. Just like the use of credit cards, osaifu-keitai also has security problems when you are using it. Worse still, when compared to credit cards, Osaifu-keitai is much more convenient and electronic money is directly incorporated in a mobile phone that you just need to tap your phone on the card machine to finish the payment without entering passwords, you may need to be more careful when using the osaifu-keitai in order to avoid money loss. You may charge a little money into your osaifu-keitai just before you are going to use it, so even your mobile phone is being stolen or your account is being hacked, you still do not need to worry about having a money loss.
Although the use of mobile wallet is still not very prevelant in Japan, I believe that this service will become more popular and recognised as the technology becomes mature in the future. Hope you all can understand more about how to use the mobile wallet in Japan after reading this article!