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Japanese iPhone users will be able to access 'My Number Cards' via NFC this fall

The Japanese government on Wednesday confirmed plans to develop an app capable of reading NFC tags on "My Number Cards," or Individual Number Cards, this fall, streamlining related processes like filing tax returns.

Masanori Kusunoki, Executive Advisor to the Government Chief Information Officer, confirmed work on the project in a tweet, saying iPhone owners will soon be able to use the handset to read the NFC tag on their My Number Card. The tweet was in response to a Nikkei report detailing the forthcoming capability.

As noted by Japan-centric Apple blog Ata Distance, which also reported on matter, the My Number system is a government effort to streamline access to a number of national and local services.

According to J-LIS, or the Japan Agency for Local Authority Information Systems, My Number works by assigning residents an individual identification number to "improve administrative efficiency, enhance public convenience, and realize a fairer and more just society." With the number linked to various state agencies managing social security, taxation and disaster countermeasures, residents can more easily file tax returns, request child services and more without the burden of separate paperwork.

My Number Cards, which are accepted forms of identification, include a FeliCa-enabled IC chip as well as information and a picture of the card holder. Currently, residents can access the FeliCa RFID module via dedicated readers on PC or NFC on select Android smartphones.

Japan is looking to expand compatibility to iPhone by creating a My Number Card app that will leverage enhanced NFC tag reader support set to debut with iOS 13 this fall.

Announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference last week, Apple's Core NFC technology will soon allow iPhone's communications stack to read NFC tags that contain data in the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF). FeliCa read and write functionality will be supported as part of the change, reports Ata Distance.

Today's news follows Apple's decision to open iPhone's NFC stack for the UK government's Brexit app. The "EU Exit: ID Document Check" app enables EU citizens to verify their identity by taking a selfie for facial recognition processing and scanning the security chip embedded in their passport.