The Guardian reports that the Japanese have re-invented the concept of the pay phone.
NTT DoCoMo has unveiled four new handsets that will allow users to pay for lunch, go to the theatre, book a flight or even open their front doors using their mobile phones. The handsets have an integrated FeliCa smart card from Sony. Customers can pay for things wirelessly by holding their mobiles next to compatible cash registers and vending machines. The payment is then taken directly from the user’s bank account or charged to a credit card.
So far, about 40 suppliers are supporting the system, including All Nippon Airways, am/pm convenience stores, and McDonald’s. DoCoMo is planning to license the technology to other mobile phone operators. Sony’s FeliCa is already used in transport applications around the world, including the Hong Kong underground.