Japanese iPhone Gets E-Wallet Functionality (Kind Of)

As we reported multiple times over the past months, the iPhone is a hit in Japan. When compared to other Japanese phones, however, it lacks a few key features such as digital TV tuners or an e-wallet function. Provider SoftBank introduced a hardware solution for the former problem in 2008, and now there’s one for the latter, too.

The way it works is pretty simple: all that Japanese iPhone users need to do is to get a IC card “sticker” and attach it to their handsets (users can continue to use their bumpers). Technically, the sticker adds Felica RFID smart card functionality to the iPhone.

Once the sticker/card is charged with e-money, users can tap their iPhone on card readers installed in train stations, convenience stores and other places in Japan to make offline payments. But you’d get the same result if you bought a simple Felica smart card for a few dollars and use that as an e-wallet – the sticker just makes things a bit easier.

Offered [JP] by SoftBank, the sticker will go on sale in February next year (price: $35).