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Nintendo plans to use Wii U GamePad's NFC to make small payments easy

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The first Wii U game to use the GamePad's near-field communication (NFC) functionality launched yesterday, and the company plans to use it to make small payments easy and thereby grow its digital business, said president Satoru Iwata today.

NFC support was available in the GamePad at launch, but no games used the feature at the time. The first, Pokémon Rumble U, came out in Japan yesterday as Pokémon Scramble U; Nintendo has not yet announced international release dates. Pokémon retail stores in Japan are selling small figurines that can be placed on the GamePad to unlock those Pokémon in the game through NFC.

Nintendo senior managing director Shigeru Miyamoto told Polygon last month that the company was making NFC integration a focus for future games. But Nintendo has its eye on the business side of NFC as well as new gameplay features.

"We are also exploring the possibility of using Wii U's NFC functionality to provide a method for settling small payments in addition to creating new gameplay experiences," said Iwata in an investor briefing today.

Nintendo is considering using Suica, an RFID smart card used for train fare in Japan, for NFC payments on Wii U. Iwata noted that if the Nintendo went through with it, the Wii U would be the first video game console to offer payments with an e-money card connected to the web. The company believes that such functionality would help to "expand the potential of Wii U's digital business."

"We can make it dramatically easier for consumers to make payments, particularly small payments," said Iwata, adding that "Nintendo can expand its business opportunities that take advantage of small payments that were difficult to monetize in the past."