Play.com plans to ‘compete directly’ in e-wallet sector with Sony-powered chip tech

By Peter Gothard
27 Jun 2012 View Comments
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Play.com CIO Franceso de Marchis has revealed that the online retailer intends to compete directly with Apple and PayPal in the emerging digital wallet sector.

The technology will be available to the company through Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, which acquired Play.com in September 2011, and originates in a further Rakuten acquisition of Sony technology.

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"This is a new move for us," said de Marchis, speaking exclusively to Computing.  "But Rakuten already has it. Rakuten has a strong background in e-wallet; they were the first in Japan to use mobile phones for paying with a chip, so now they're implementing their own e-wallet that works with major bank and credit cards."

As the Japanese e-commerce giant also owns its own bank, the transition should be particularly smooth, he said.

De Marchis told Computing that Play.com's e-wallet will be integrated with other e-wallets, and will work around one unique ID integrated into the chip, which will mean customers don't need to go through awkward sign-in procedures.

"The ID will be in the chip. It will basically make life easier, so you can browse to Play.com and buy instantly from us."

The technology is currently being tested by Rakuten in Japan, but de Marchis expects it to migrate Play.com in the very near future.

"That'll be a big plus, because right now all the e-wallets are basically self-contained by the likes of Paypal," said de Marchis. "There is no interoperability. But with this one you'll be able to say, ‘I don't care which bank you have, I'm going to accept everything'.

"Rakuten basically bought the technology from Sony," explained de Marchis, "who originally created it by working in partnership with Rakuten, and then they sold to Rakuten. So now Rakuten has an entire company that does this chip on mobile."

"We'll be competing directly, thanks to Rakuten," added de Marchis.

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