FeliCa Contactless IC Card System

FeliCa is a contactless IC card technology that supports the entire life cycle of IC cards including application development, card issuance, personalization, and daily operation.
Designed with optimum architecture for contactless systems, FeliCa has shown its reliability and high performance in a number of large-scale successful deployments worldwide.
FeliCa card is the world's first contactless smart card certified by ISO/IEC 15408 EAL4, which assures the security and reliability of the FeliCa system.
The enabling factors of this achievement are as follows:

1.Principles of FeliCa

Contactless communication between the reader/writer and the card is activated by electromagnetic waves radiating from the reader/writer.

FeliCa communicates on a standard frequency of 13.56 MHz at a speed of 212 kbps or 424 kbps. The symmetric communication technology does not require a sub-carrier.

2.Advantageous characteristics

FeliCa is designed with the optimum architecture for contactless systems.
FeliCa adopts the Manchester-coding system as the bit-coding scheme, which is tolerant of noise caused by distance fluctuation between the reader/writer and the card.

Collision detection and avoidance using a time slot method requires fewer steps per transaction compared with other methods; this speeds up the whole process.
Symmetric communication does not use a sub-carrier, so the emission is low and the communication rate can exceed 847 kbps.

Data sheet
Carrier 13.56 MHz
Sub-carrier None
Modulation ASK 10%
Bit coding Manchester
Communication rate 212 kbps, 424 kbps
Anti-collision Time Slot

3.High-speed transactions

Due to an efficient mutual authentication method and an advantageous transmission system, the transaction process (including secure encryption) between the reader/writer and the IC card is completed within 0.1 second.


FeliCa can manage several data sets for different purposes on a single card. It facilitates unique access rights to each service provider on a single card. The file system consists of "Areas" and "Services" that organize files in a tree structure. Each area is similar to a folder and can contain other areas recursively. Each service defines how to access data entities.

Access keys serve as application firewalls that prevent unauthorized access to the services of other providers. By organizing these keys in a specific manner, authentication can be done for two or more services at once.

5.Anti-tear transactions

FeliCa supports simultaneous access of up to 8 blocks (1 block is 16 bytes). If an IC card is moved beyond the range of the reader/writer during the session, data inconsistency can occur. In such cases, FeliCa card automatically discards uncommitted data to restore the previous state.


Using industry-standard security algorithms, FeliCa ensures high levels of proven security. The encryption key is generated dynamically every time mutual authentication is performed, thereby preventing fraud, such as impersonation.

FeliCa complements these communication-security functions with other security features.
Issuance information and change-key information are encrypted and encapsulated in "packages" to ensure their secure exchange between issuers and card manufacturers without revealing confidential information.
The transport key scheme provides a way to avoid fraud during shipping and the issuance process.

7.Types of data access

Three types of data access are managed by the FeliCa operating system. Each data type has multiple access modes, such as Read Only and Read/Write, and can be configured with or without security.

Type of data access Operation Typical application
Random Read/Write any block Stores any data, such as ID data.
Cyclic Read/Write block by block in a cyclic manner Stores historical data.
Purse Read/Write any block Stores value data.
Read Only

8.Supporting the life cycle of IC cards

FeliCa supports the entire life cycle of IC cards, from the development stage to the operational stage.

Various SDKs (Software Development Kits) enhance productivity for application developers.
A well-organized shipping and issuance scheme prevents fraud during the issuance stage.
FeliCa includes a fully-defined command set, including issuance commands and self-diagnosis commands that ease the maintenance of cards and reader/writers at run time.

9.Conforming to NFC (Near Field Communication) standards

The communication system for FeliCa contactless technology conforms to ISO/IEC 18092 (NFCIP-1), the standard jointly proposed by Sony and NXP Semiconductors. NFC technical specifications were decided by the NFC Forum based on international standards set by ISO/IEC and support ISO/IEC 14443, ISO/IEC 18092, and ISO/IEC 15693.
FeliCa is one standard within the NFC framework.

10.Various forms of products

FeliCa technology is already embedded in a wide range of products, from cards and mobile phones to tokens, key fobs and even wristwatches. In the near future, more and more FeliCa-based applications shall be found in a greater variety of devices, bringing the convenience of FeliCa closer than ever.