New NFC Activity In Both China, Japan

Shoppers in many Asian countries have always felt much more kindly about Near Field Communication (NFC) for payments than have their U.S. counterparts, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to see more NFC trials cropping up with various Asian retailers. But new trials are showing an especially aggressive stance.

In Japan, MasterCard PayPass announced Tuesday (May 11) plans for 410,000 NFC (aka contactless) POS terminals in Japan over the next three years, reports Japan Today.

"In February, MasterCard announced strong growth of contactless payments made on MasterCard-enabled cards across the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region in 2012, citing a 28 percent increase in merchant locations, reflecting a strong demand from consumers in the region," the report said. "The early adoption and penetration of contactless payments in Japan ahead of other countries saw transactions amounting to (more than) 2 trillion yen in 2011, according to the Bank of Japan." That's roughly $20.8 billion in the U.S..

In Japan, signatures are not required for MasterCard NFC transactions that cost less than 10,000 yen (about $104 U.S.) since October 2012, when the amount was raised from 2,500 yen (about $26 U.S.), the Japan Today story said.

MasterCard NFC payments can already be made for shoppers using Android phones at some Macy's, Walgreens and ToysRUs in the U.S., Marks & Spencer and Carrefour in Europe and Mitsukoshi, 7-Eleven and Starbucks in a few Asian locations.

In China, China's Xinhua News Agency is reporting the launch of a new mobile payment system from China UnionPay and China Mobile. The news of the new platform is significant because UnionPay is the only domestic bank card available in China, and China Mobile is the nation's largest carrier, with more than 700 million subscribers, reported Mobile Payments Today.

Several Chinese banks will also be participating in the effort including the Bank of China, CITIC, Everbright, China Minsheng, GF, Pudong, Shanghai Bank and Beijing Bank, the report said, adding that the system will be launched immediately and available in several Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing.

For more:
- See this Japan Today story 
- See this Mobile Payments Today story 
- See this Xinhuanet story

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