Softbank to Deploy NFC Mobile Payments ‘Stickers’ for iPhone

While popular in much of Asia, the iPhone remains held back from mobile phone domination in the region because it lacks many standardized features of other smartphones ubiquitous in Asia, particularly the e-wallet functionality of mobile devices common in Japan.

This situation may soon change, however, in light of a new effort by Japanese carrier Softbank. The company is moving ahead with plans to bring limited NFC functionality to the popular Apple handset. The plan calls for NFC “seals” – which defectively act as stickers – to be placed on the back of the devices, covering much of the iPhone’s entire back panel.

Remarkably, though, the seal is so small and thin that Apple’s iPhone 4 bumpers can still be used with the device. As it now stands, stickers for three different mobile payment services will be introduced by early February with an estimated price tag of about $35.

According to Engadget, the sticker has no functional relationship with the iPhone. That is, the sticker acts as a “traditional dumb NFC terminal,” but one that enables iPhone users in Japan to deploy – for the first time – mobile payments by using the most popular e-wallet services available to them in the region.