Tokyo (JCNN) - East Japan Railway (JR East) will join forces with NTT DoCoMo and Sony to launch a new mobile Suica smartcard service in January 2006. The partners will conduct a trial service beginning in March using pilot service-compatible handsets.
The new service will combine JR East's Suica smartcard functions with DoCoMo i-mode cellphones enabled by Sony's FeliCa smartcard platform. IC chips for the service and service applications will be developed by FeliCa Networks, a joint venture established by the three companies. The service will allow users to check the fare balance, recharge e-money fares, and buy a commuter pass whenever and wherever from their handsets, as well as enjoying the basic Suica smartcard functions.
JR East plans on service expansion by making the service available for online shopping (by the second half of 2006) and for purchasing Shinkansen bullet train tickets (in fiscal 2007).