Suica Apple Pay Details


(The Suica information here is out of date. See Apple Pay Japan Intro Q&A for up to date Suica Apple Pay information)

Smartphone journalist Tsutsumu Ishikawa published an interview with JR East vice chairman Masaki Ogata covering details of Suica Apple Pay arriving in late October for iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 devices sold in Japan. Details include:

  • Up to eight Suica cards can be added to Apple Pay. One for commuting to work, one for personal use, etc.
  • No automatic reloading (‘charge’ in Japanese) in Apple Pay. However the JR East Suica app will allow users to set automatic reload of Suica cards with any Apple Pay credit card (I can’t wait to test Suica reload with my US issued credit card).
  • The Suica app will also add other extras: creation of new Suica cards and commuter train passes, Green Car seat ticket purchases and Shinkansen Express ticket purchases. Tokkaido (Tokyo~Osaka) Shinkansen ticket and seat reservations will be added later as details are being worked out with JR Central.

The Suica app is built specifically for iPhone 7. One of the interesting things that Ogata san points out is the Suica app allows creation of new Suica and any iPhone 7 user in Japan can create and use one. Jr East says Suica works with all the major transit IC card systems from Hokkaido to Kyushu, so iPhone 7 is clearly a boon for JR East in extending Suica reach nationwide.

As previously noted, only iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 devices sold in Japan support FeliCa, the NFC flavor for Japanese Apple Pay. The same NFC chip is used worldwide but Apple appears to be limiting functionality to Japanese devices via software. We’ll know for certain with the official release of iOS 10.1/watchOS 3.1 which will launch Apple Pay in Japan.

Ogata san’s previous statement about supporting “inbound” iPhone 7 users, along with Apple’s ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), suggest FeliCa Apple Pay availability for all iPhone 7 users visiting Japan. At some point…perhaps.

If that happens, iPhone 7 will certainly deserve the title “the iPhone for Japan.”