Two news stories from Identive today that have a Japanese flavour in common. First up is the news that Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. and Identive Group, Inc. are to jointly develop a new ID card reader that allows Japanese merchants, banks and others to read any of the diverse types of electronic identity credentials in use in Japan.

The NDI711 reader supports the rapidly growing market for NFC phones and cards, and also includes a traditional contact smart card interface. The ability to read both contact and contactless ID credentials, together with a compact form factor, make the NDI711 reader ideal for use in the space conscious retail environment in Japan.

The first customer for the new reader is a leading mobile phone retailer that has purchased more than 20,000 of the devices for installation in its stores across Japan. In addition to verifying customers’ IDs when they sign up for their mobile phones, the readers are also being used at the customer service counter to validate customers for after-sales services such as phone repairs. The reader makes it easier for the retailers’ employees to collect required customer data and is faster and more convenient for their customers.

“Japan has taken a leading role globally in the implementation of electronic identification credentials, but the use of disparate electronic technologies has made it difficult for many sectors to move away from paper-based systems. Our cooperation with DNP targets a significant opportunity to provide electronic identity authentication to the retail, banking and public sectors in Japan,” said Dr. Manfred Mueller, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Identive’s ID Infrastructure division.

“The ability of the NDI711 to read both the contactless NFC chip and the contact IC chip is particularly exciting, as this broadens the device’s usefulness and security capabilities. The NDI711 has the opportunity to form the centerpiece of authentication for many types of applications in the Japanese market,” stated Sakae Hikita, Managing Director of Dai Nippon Printing.

In Japan it is a common requirement that mobile phone stores confirm the identity of their customers when they sign up for new phone plans or transfer their mobile phones services. Currently most stores manually copy personal identity credentials such as a driver’s license and store these as hardcopy files, which creates a workload issue. Within stores that have implemented electronic card readers, two separate devices are required to handle the various types of contact and contactless card technologies used in identification credentials. The NDI711 enables retail stores to utilize one small device to read a wide variety of ID credential types, including Japan’s millions of FeliCa and Osaifu-Keitai Mobile Wallet phones, contactless Type A/Type B smart cards (used for drivers’ licenses and the Juki resident registry card).

Next up is the news that Identive have also announced a new line of NFC transponder products based on Sony Corporation’s FeliCa Lite chip technology. This particular announcement coincides with the NFC and Smart World Conference in Tokyo this week, where Identive will be previewing its new FeliCa Lite designs for NFC Forum Type 3 engineered inlays for tag and label applications as well as its ultra-thin SmartCore™ technology for card applications.

Sony’s FeliCa Lite technology is designed to offer a lower cost alternative to conventional FeliCa chips thanks to a compact and energy saving design, streamlined security features and an optimized simple file system, making it ideal for high-volume NFC applications where cost is critical. FeliCa Lite is backward-compatible within FeliCa environments.

“FeliCa contactless technology has been widely deployed in Japan and several other Asian countries for many years for public transportation, customer loyalty programs and payment applications, and there is a growing need for NFC infrastructure products to capitalize on and expand this success,” said Shunichi Fujii, President of Identive Japan.

Scott Austin, Vice President International Sales of Identive’s Transponder Division added: “Identive offers a full range of Type 1, 2 and 4 NFC products including tags, labels, cards and other products for the commercial and consumer markets. We plan to expand our smart FeliCa Lite offerings to include smart tag, sticker and label offerings in the near future. We are pleased to be expanding our range of NFC designs to include the highly respected FeliCa technology from Sony and to strengthen Identive’s NFC transponder offering with an important technology that is in demand by our customers and NFC developers worldwide. We are particularly pleased to be the first company to offer a wide range of designs for all fours types of NFC tags globally,”

Big in Japan indeed.


PS – For those younger readers who don’t know what I’m talking about, this is Alphaville’s ‘Big in Japan’.

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