Japanese companies go mobile with e-commerce

NTT DoCoMo, Sony and NTT Data aim to prove that mobile e-commerce applications using non-contact IC (integrated circuit) cards and PDAs (personal digital assistants) are secure and efficient, the companies announced on Wednesday.

The three companies were commissioned to test mobile e-commerce applications by the Telecommunications Advancement Organisation of Japan, which is closely affiliated with Japan's Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Post and Telecommunications.

The test will involve using IC cards and PDAs to access the Internet over packet-based wireless networks to demonstrate the practicality of mobile e-commerce, with a focus on security, immediateness and convenience, a company statement said.

The test will include four applications -- purchasing e-money wirelessly, using e-money to pay for subway rides instead of using tickets, purchasing drinks from eight vending machines located in the test area using e-money, and paying for entrance to concerts using e-money instead of tickets.

The mobile e-commerce test will last from August 1, 2001, through January 31, 2002, and include 300 users in the northern city of Sapporo, the statement said.

In addition to being provided with IC cards, each participating user will be provided with Casio Computer Co Ltd. Cassiopeia E-707 PDAs, according to Junko Sato, a spokeswoman for Sony.