DoCoMo, Rakuten to set up online auction service

13 Nov 2006

Japan’s leading mobile operator by subscribers NTT DoCoMo has struck a deal with Rakuten Inc, which provides an internet shopping mall service in the country, to jointly offer online auctions via PCs and mobile phones. The pair also plan to create a social network service along the lines of rival Softbank’s Yahoo Japan Corp site, and plan to set up a new company in which DoCoMo will pay USD36 million for a 40% stake. The new auction site is designed to help NTT’s wireless arm compete with rivals such as KDDI and Softbank which are offering new services such as digital TV and music downloads to lure users. Rakuten, whose services range from online shopping, travel booking and brokerages, is also in talks with Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc concerning a possible alliance in areas such as internet TV and e-commerce after Rakuten dropped its takeover attempt last year. DoCoMo meanwhile, is also understood to be looking to develop its so-called ‘wallet phone’ service, which allows consumers to use their phones as debit or credit cards, to increase revenues, improve customer loyalty, and reduce churn.