Nintendo is looking into the possibility of expanding its Suica e-money payment system to its New Nintendo 3DS, the company confirmed today.
The smart card, which was introduced earlier this year in Japan, has so far only been available for monetary payments relating to Nintendo's Wii U console. Before the introduction of these e-money payments, the company had only supported digital payments over credit cards and prepaid cards.
According to company president Satoru Iwata the "barrier has been cleared" for other consoles to adopt digital payment systems — particularly consoles that feature content for under 500 yen (roughly $5).
"From this summer, we commenced public transport e-money payments, starting with JR East's 'Suica,' on Wii U," Iwata said. "By the introduction of this function, the barrier to make small payments has been lowered, and more consumers who had never purchased products digitally before are trying them. In other words, with the increase in the number of Wii U hardware, which has cleared the barrier for digital purchases, introduction of the Suica payment function has played a role in 'lowering the payment barrier,' which is an important issue in the digital business.
"In addition, one clear example of the increase in the usage rate for payments under 500 yen is the 24-hour karaoke ticket. We are considering making Suica payments available also on New Nintendo 3DS. If this is made possible, since there is an abundance of under-500-yen digital content for Nintendo 3DS, we are expecting new possibilities and opportunities."
Iwata first announced the idea of using the Wii U's NFC functionality last year, stating Nintendo plans to use it to make small payments easy and thereby grow its digital business.
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 in 2013 as Pokémon Scramble U.
"We think that this NFC payment function will help provide more convenience to consumers," Iwata said at the time. "And at the same time, I think that this will be an opportunity for both Nintendo and our business partners to come up with new ways to do business on Wii U."