Softbank brings NFC payment technology to iPhone 4

Softbank NFC Seal

While most have assumed the iPhone 5 will include NFC technology for turning your iPhone into an eWallet, Japanese carrier Softbank has announced they'll be releasing their own NFC payment system for the iPhone 4 ahead of Apple in the form of a sticker you can apply to Apple's flagship smartphone. From Engadget:

Softbank has responded to complaints about the iPhone 4's NFC deficit by introducing a new "seal" for the back of Apple's latest and greatest.

The seal is applied to the back of the iPhone 4 covering all but the camera and will be able to communicate with the FeliCa payment system used in Japan. Apparently the sticker won't interfere with cases like Apple's own Bumper case, but based on the picture above I really can't see this system working with every case out there.

Also noted by Engadget is that the sticker doesn't actually communicate with the iPhone 4 itself, but acts as a separate system that simply attaches itself to the device. So until Apple decides to integrate this directly it doesn't look like true NFC has hit the iPhone (yet). Softbank's NFC seal will be going for ¥2,980 ($36) in February.

This got me wondering -- if this "sticker" implementation of NFC were released anywhere else, would iPhone users actually use it or would you prefer waiting until Apple officially rolls NFC into the next iPhone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

[Softbank via Engadget]

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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

Softbank brings NFC payment technology to iPhone 4

14 Comments

And how is this any different from someone walking by you swiping a device over a wallet or a purse and stealing your credit card information?

I would never use an ewallet. Combine my phone and my credit card?? Crazy. Let's just combine phone, credit card, driver license, and passport. It would mark the beginning of the end. I could care less if the 5 has NFC. I just want a bigger screen. Spec bumps are always appreciated. I'll take NFC if it doesn't take up much space and has other useful applications besides giving someone another major reason to try and steal my iPhone.

Japan has been using NFC for awhile and no problems have come of it. Everytime my sister in law buys something at Yodabashi Camera she just swipes her phone over a pad and it's paid for. The first time a saw it i thought it was going to blow up in America. Still hasn't come to the forefront yet. Maybe their is too much crime here and humans have to ruin a great product. Thanks Dirtbags!!!!

Maybe people will pay more attention to their phone if they realize it's also their wallet. One good thing about it is. With find my iPhone, you can disable everything with one hit. And not have to cancel all your credit cards.
I'm still curious to see how it knows that the owner is even swiping the phone. I mean any kid can grab his moms phone off the kitchen counter and run to the store with it.

While Japan does have a certain criminal element, it is nothing like the USA. Remember, we see assualts and even homicides in the US over t-shirts, t-shoes and a variety of other personal articles. Adding a mobile phone (the BG may not even be sure it is NFC ready) to the mix will still cause some violence. Not saying that the technology wouldn't work here, but the personal safety side of this will be different than Japan.
And yes, I have visited Japan several times, so I feel ok throwing this out there.
Really, it's best to get a concealed handgun license, that may even out those surprise attacks over your mobile phone.

FWIW, Japan has lower violent crime statistics than the US and most other "first-world" countries. According to Wikipedia: "In 1989 Japan experienced 1.3 robberies per 100,000 population, compared with 48.6 for West Germany, 65.8 for Great Britain, and 233.0 for the United States..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CrimeinJapan
Of course, it may be that the Japanese authorities are simply under-reporting crimes...

Oops. Somehow underbars in URLs don't show up on the forums here. Just search for "crime in Japan" on Wikipedia...

@ Cardfan. ....duh. Two separate sentences. Keep it a phone? That's not why I own an iPhone. I would have gone with Verizon if I just wanted a phone. It's a pocket computer with built in phone capabilities. Slightly larger screen would make the experience better. As would spec bumps. Neither of which would need to change the phone size. Since I know you can't handle a larger phone.

I like the size of my iPhone 4, I really wouldn't want one any bigger. Maybe the home button could be made rectangular, a bit wider but half the height, and the retina screen could be extended a bit top and bottom, to provide a wider aspect ratio for video and slightly less scrolling for web pages, but the benefits hardly seem to be significant enough to prompt ANOTHER resolution / aspect ratio change; when the effects on iOS apps are considered.
Maybe it could work from a software standing. Apps that haven't been updated can use the same pixels they do today, and the extra height could just be used for a multi-tasking bar that doesn't push the active window up ... or for quick access to a notifications or settings bar? Who knows?
The real question is, can they make the current hardware guts small enough to add more RAM, more Flash (64-128 gb), more battery, AND a bigger screen? Stuff inside the iPhone 4 is pretty darn small already.

I'd like my phone to be everything I need. I'd like everything silentsoul mentioned, plus antenna to control everything like a remote (tv, car, lights) and get radio and tv signal. If apple comes out with this, u could lock up everything on the device, or blow it away, from any computer if it ever gets stolen. The more you rely on one device for everything, the less likely u r to loose or misplace it, and the more accessible everything is. Not to mention u can slim down on everything u have to kart around.

Lived in japan for 27 years.. they have been using their mobile phones to purchase items at vending machines (alcohol and panties are available ;-) ) and to ride their trains and subways for years. Yes, crime is much lower there... scams on the elderly and bicycle heft. Had 3 stolen over the years... BTW the price of an iPhone is extremely high there even with a-2-yr-contract. Even if you have an UNLOCKED iPhone you can use a Pre Paid Softbank SIM, but you will lose functionality.