Today is Samstag, 23rd März 2019


With Regard to RF Technology, Felica use the 13,56 MHz band and a 8 % – 30 % ASK Modulation and therefore is compliant with the NFC Standard for communication speeds at 212 kbit and 424 kbits. Felica offers an unsecured and a secure communication mode. The application layer on top of Sony’s smartcard is proprietary, but the communication layer is partly mirrored in the NFC-Fourm Type 3 Specification (only cover polling, read, write) as well in the Japanese Industrial Standard JIS X6319-4 (JIS does not cover the encryption and the key generation)

That the moment Sony has two off-the-self readers available: The PaSoRi Reader RC-S230 only supports Felcia whereas the new RC-S330 also supports NFC. With regard to the NFC functionality, Sony has not yet released any specification, but already during the installation of the driver for the RC-S330, you will see a “felciaport_nfc.dll” being copied to your hard disk. Both readers come with an USB interface, which allows you to  extend the of Felcia/NFC capabilities of nearly any device. (e.g. Sony’s PS3 for example). In Japan there are already several consumer electronic devices out in the market offering a Felica port (Vaio Notebooks, Bravia TVs). With regard to the installation of the RC-S230, there is currently a language support issue and therefore the current driver (the Japanese one) can only be installed on a Japanese Windows – but the international driver is currently under construction, I was recently assured.

If you would like to start developing with Felica, I’d recommend to get a PaSoRi Reader first ( In case you are heading for low-level protocol programming, have a look at these two projects at Sourceforge, using the PaSoRi Reader Driver. ( or The other way around, if you have an NFC Device, you also can play with a Felica reader: By sending Felica-Frames (F-Frames) using low-level NFC-Commands in NFC-Target-Mode, the Felica reader will think, he is talking to a Felica Card. Funny, isn’t it? Actually these low-leve NFC-Commands are not support by JSR257 (J2ME), because they require the control over the full NFC-Stack in the device. A good starting point to try this yourself, are NFC-Readers supporting the NFC-Target mode.

If you would like to play with cards and applications on cards, you will need to get one of Sony’s Professional SDKs. These SDKs allow you to format cards and create Felica-Areas (Directories) and Felica-Services (Files). Similar to the Mifare Application Directory (MAD), Felica cards hold a Service Code List (SCL) indicating the applications on the card. With the SDK you are able to modify all this information on the cards.

So far for the technology – let’s have a look at the Felic Business Side.

The Japanese Market

Let’s start off with some market figures. In Japan, there are approximately 107 Mio. Mobile Subscribers who have a contract with one of the four different MNOs (Market shares are: NTTDoCoMo 50,7 %, KDDI/au 28,7 %, Softbank 19,2 % and Emobile 1,4 %). Assuming that Japan has a population of 128 Mio, the market penetration is around 83 %. The 3G penetration of all subscribers is around 90 %.

A Brief History on the Success of Felica in Japan

  • November 18th, 2001: Introduction of SUICA (Super Urban Intelligent Card) at Japan Rail; 424 stations involved.
  • March 2002: Felica is certified by Common Criteria according to EAL4 in 2002.
  • April 9th, 2003: Sony, NTTDoCoMo and a couple of banks form a joint venture “bitWallet” for a mobile contactless payment schema called EDY (Euro – Dollar – Yen).
  • October 2003 – February 2004: Setup of Felica Networks, a Trusted Service Manager for Felica (by Sony and NTTDoCoMo).
  • July 10th 2004: Introduction of Mobile Felica by NTTDoCoMo and the mobile Wallet: Osaifu-Keitai;
  • September 9th, 2005: au by KDDI licences Felica/Osaifu-Keitai
  • November 11th, 2005: Softbank licences Felica/Osaifu-Keitai
  • January 28th, 2006: Launch of mobile Suica as part of Osaifu-Keitai
  • August, 2006: EDY (by bitWallet) is offered by more than 40.000 Retails shops
  • November 2006: Mobile Suica is used by 120.000 mobile Subscribers of NTTDoCoMo
  • March 18th, 2007 Launch of PASMO: 27 Railway companies, 32 Bus Operators join PASMO
  • April 13th, 2007: 520.000 electronic payments/day in offline Shops/POS
  • April 1st, 2007: 20 Mio. SUICA Cards in Circulation, 430.000 mobile SUICA users; 2127 JR Stations SUICA enabled; 22,150 offline Shops and 7,000 online Shop accept SUICA
  • November 14th, 2007: NXP Semiconductors and Sony create Moversa, a joint venture for universal contactless solutions.
  • March 2008: More than 50 % of all Handset support mobile Felica; Mobile Felica will be integrated into each new handset.
  • May 2008: McDonalds start e-Couponing using Osaifu Keitai
  • January 2009: 21 Mio. SUICA Cards in Circulation, 1 Mio. Mobile SUICA users
  • April 2009: 11 Mio. PASMO Card in Circulation

Out of the history one can see, that the whole system is more or less under control by Sony and NTTDoCoMo. Due the big success of mobile Felica in NTT’s devices, the other operators got under pressure had to licence the technology, which is good business for Sony/NTT. But on the other hand a lot of time and money was invested into the development of the technology. There are rumours saying, that KDDI and Softbank have to pay licence feeds of 10 USD for the integration of mobile Felica in a device, which seams to be a good deal, when comparing it with the numbers of subscribers mentioned in above.

Suica – Transportation in Japan

Japan Rail started with R&D on automated Fare collection (AFC) systems already in 1987 and introduced magnet stripe cards in 1992. Then they worked together with Sony and other Silicon Manufactures on contactless systems, playing with microwaves as well as battery operated Cards in Trials in 1994, 1995 and 1997. After lots of affords, in 2001 the SUICA Card was released. The big advantages of Felica over Magnet Stripe cards are on the one hand reliability (as there are no mechanical parts in a contactless system) and processing time (700 ms for magnet stripe vs 200 ms for contactless card).

By starting with contactless cards, the rollout process was not as complicated as when using mobile Felica handsets only. Secondly, the TSM (Felcia Networks) was already founded in the very beginning, and therefore all rolls where set. Japan Rail later joined Felica Networks and now holds a share around 5 % (Sony: 57 %, NTT DoCoMo 38 %).


I have been to Japan two times now, and the technology is really amazing. It works fast, convenient and you can use it for payment and ticketing. And although there are thousands of people walking thru the gates, the system works very reliable. I’m really looking forward to this technology coming to Europe. Japan is already five years head of time whereas NFC in Europe is not moving forward for some time now. Hopefully things are changing, which Nokia rolling out their new Nokia 6216 supporting SWP and the UICC as the Secure Element.


Felica: Felcia (Felicity Card) is a contactless smartcard (PICC) produced of Sony. The card is neither compatible with ISO14443-A or –B but is now covered in the ISO/IEC 18092 for NFC. Parts of Felica are mirrored in JIS 6319-4 as well as the NFC-Forum Type Tag 3, but don’t cover the whole command set of Felica which is proprietary. Felica can operate in secured (using 3DES encryption) and unsecured mode.

Felica Networks: Felica Networks was initially founded by Sony and NTT DoCoMo, later Japan Rail joined them. Felica Networks is running the Trusted Service Management (TSM) for the Felica Ecosystem consisting for contactless readers, cards and handsets. Felica Networks allows the OTA Management and installation of application in mobile Felica Handsets.

Suica: Suica is contactless Smartcard based on Felica being used by Japan Rail for Fare Collection at their Gates.

Mobile Suica: Mobile Suica is the representation of the Suica-Card in a mobile device featuring Felica.

Osaifu-Keitai: Osaifu-Keitai is a mobile Wallet Schema introduced and implemented by NTTDocomo. The wallet is able to hold different smartcard applications such as mobile Suica, EDY, iD or Loyalty cards. The brand “Osaifu Keitai” is registered by NTTDoCoMo is stands for contactless Technology in a handset.

PASMO: Like Suica, PASMO is a contactless smartcard being used by different public transport operators in Japan.

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