Japan’s leading smartphone journalist Tsutsumu Ishikawa reports mounting evidence that iPhone 7 will support the Sony invented FeliCa standard by way of East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and KDDI. If true this would finally pave the way for Apple Pay to work in Japan with the massive FeliCa installed base and the many FeliCa based services offered by the JR Group (Suica), the major carriers DoComo, KDDI and SoftBank, and many others.
As reported last week, KDDI announced carrier billing for their au iPhone customers. The timing and sly hook into the KDDI/au payment system certainly feels like a teaser for Apple Pay. This is exactly the point Ishikawa makes in his article. He also mentions the UQ Communications co-venture funded by KDDI and JR East and the solid working relationship between the two.
Ishikawa san doesn’t name any specific sources but as a longtime Nikkei journalist, his sources to date have been very solid. He simply does not report rumor unless he is sure.
With all three Japanese carriers selling iPhone these past few years, KDDI has been the most eager one to adopt Apple technology and services such as Apple SIM and carrier billing to gain an edge on the competition. The other carriers, so far, have been taken a slow approach.
If KDDI and JR East announce Apple Pay support alongside Apple’s upcoming iPhone event, Japanese customers will have a good reason to upgrade to iPhone 7.
Update: Added KDDI details. 8/24
Update 2: Bloomberg “broke” the Apple Pay coming to Japan story without giving any credit to Japanese reporter Tsutsumu Ishikawa who published the story last week. Typical shameless Bloomberg behavior. If they had any integrity they would have given him credit. 8/26