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Sony, Watchdata tag-team to hook more mobiles into NFC tech

An emerging interest of contactless payments hasn't gone unnoticed, as Sony and Watchdata team up to integrate near field communication into more handsets.

Sony and Watchdata have teamed up in the latest effort to further the use of contactless payments.

The consumer electronics giant has signed an agreement with Singapore-based smart card company Watchdata to integrate near field communication (NFC) and Sony's FeliCa technology into Watchdata's SIMpass solutions next year.

As part of the agreement, Sony and Watchdata will "provide NFC functions to a wider range of mobile phone handsets," expanding the ongoing trend of NFC payments made via a mobile device.

Sony's FeliCa technology, widely used in Asia, is a secure contactless payment service. FeliCa technology is often used in Asia for ticketing systems, event ticketing, and customer loyalty programs. According to Sony, as of July 2012, there were over 605 million Sony FeliCa chips deployed worldwide -- incorporated in 403 million cards and 202 million mobile phones.

SIMpass, a Watchdata product, is a payment system backed by large corporations in China that provides NFC functionality to 6 million handset users in East Asia. By adding an antenna to a secure SIM card, SIMpass removes the need to add additional hardware.

"The commercially proven security and performance of FeliCa is something we want to aggressively promote in the growing NFC ecosystem," Mario Manabe, senior general manager of the FeliCa business division at Sony said in the announcement. "The agreement with Watchdata allows us to adapt FeliCa technologies to more handsets and expand global market presence."