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Softbank gets sticky over iPhone proximity payments

In Japan, by the power of adhesive

Website security in corporate America

Japanese network operator Softbank is to begin providing iPhone stickers enabling proximity payments for all the popular banks, for those who can't wait for an NFC-equipped iPhone.

The stickers are designed for slapping on the back of an iPhone 4, thus adding something in the way of physical protection for the glass-backed device. Softbank will be issuing them from next month according to the ever-reliable Near Field Communications World, which also has pictures of sticker-equipped iPhones:

iPhone stickers

The sticker covers the whole back of the phone, though the logo is smaller

Proximity payments have long been popular in Japan, in part because of the cash-based culture that eschews credit cards, but mostly thanks to NTT DoCoMo owning an entire value chain (network operator, bank, technology provider) and forcing manufacturers and competitors alike to comply with its "standards".

Payments systems are only NFC in the broadest possible sense of the term, being bound to the FeliCa standard, which offers much of the functionality promised by the N-Mark standard, which is coming to dominate outside Japan. FeliCa is owned by Sony, which has tried to spread the technology outside Japan, but with very limited success.

Android and Symbian already boast N-Mark handsets, with limited capability, and Apple is expected to include the technology in the next iPhone, but that won't help the Japanese, who'll need to use stickers for a while. ®

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