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Sony to launch e-money scheme

13 July 1999

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It was five years ago today... In the heady days of the infancy of e-commerce, the fate of the well-worn leather wallet bearing fivers seemed sealed. Cash? Soon to be a thing of the past:

Sony to launch e-money scheme

By Tony Smith
Published Tuesday 13th July 1999 14:51 GMT

Sony is hoping to become a key e-commerce player when it launches a digital currency scheme next year. According to reports in Japanese business paper Nikkei, Sony's e-money programme will operate through its Internet service, So-Net.

Buyers would make payments using a smartcard, swiping the card through a reader connected to their PC to make the transaction. Users would pay Sony to top up their cards with e-money. In that respect, the service resembles the recently launched Magex digital currency, though Magex uses wallet software stored on a PC's hard disk rather than a separate smartcard. The scheme will be tested in public during summer 2000, said Nikkei, with the full roll-out following later in the year.


In December 2000, Sony reported that it had signed a deal with ten other companies to "start a Prepaid Electronic Money Service called "Edy" for the Japanese domestic market. The joint venture company will be established in January 2001, and full-scale service is due to start in October 2001".

As far as we can tell, the Edy service still operates in Japan, although the idea never really took off in Europe and the US where the pretty simple idea of getting stuff online with a bog-standard credit/debit card is well established.

The road toward e-commerce nirvana is, as we all know, littered with brave attempts to create alternative e-currencies. The most memorable of the UK efforts was Beenz, which fell by the wayside in August 2001.

As for Magex - a National Westminster Bank spin-off - it went on to secure a cash injection from none other than Paul McCartney as part of a tentative move into the music download market.

Magex is these days running bog-standard online and mobile "payment solutions" for Nat West - with no mention of Paul McCartney, music downloads or, sadly, any form of revolutionary digital currency. ®

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