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DoCoMo and MasterCard to let Japanese make NFC mobile payments abroad

Allowing users to make NFC payments with their mobile phone abroad is a natural step for operators, according to an analyst

Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo's subscribers will be able to make mobile payments when travelling abroad next year, thanks to a collaboration with MasterCard.

Together the two companies will expand DoCoMo's iD mobile credit payment system to include MasterCard PayPass merchant locations, of which there were nearly 500,000 in 41 countries as of June.

"It is a natural evolution," said Lars Kurkinen, telecom analyst at Berg Insight.

All over the world operators, smartphone OS vendors, banks and card companies are jockeying for position in the NFC-based mobile payment space.

But hardly anyone is able to compete with the payment card companies when it comes to international payments, except perhaps PayPal, according to Kurkinen. Visa and MasterCard can be expected to sign similar deals with operators in other countries, but it will take some time, he said.

For the iD and PayPass integration to work, DoCoMo subscribers first need a phone compatible with versions of NFC used outside Japan, called Type A and Type B. The Sony Xperia AX-SO-01E and the Sharp Aquos Phone Zeta SH-02E, which were also announced on Thursday, fit that category.

Phones also have to be equipped with a new mini UIM card that will go on sale in February, and an iD application for PayPass, which will be ready in September next year.

In December, DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank saidthey will work together in the newly formed "Japan Mobile NFC Consortium" to bring the country in line with standards used abroad, namely Type A and Type B.

They currently use FeliCa, which is developed by Sony, for mobile payments.

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