Apple Pay Japan – VISA Restrictions

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(VISA information on this page is out of date. See Apple Pay Japan Intro Q&A for up to date VISA and Apple Pay Japan information)

If you look carefully at the Apple Pay Japanese page, three major credit card companies are shown in the credit card section: American Express, JCB and MasterCard. VISA is absent and never shown in any of the Apple Pay pictures or video clips. VISA has it’s own FeliCa contactless pay system for Japan called VISA Touch, it’s the reason VISA is not directly participating in Apple Pay.

Does this mean VISA won’t work with Japanese Apple Pay when it launches in late October? Not at all. All of the Japanese card issuers listed on the 2nd and 3rd rows of the Apple Pay Japan page offer VISA branded cards and these will work with Apple Pay, but there are restrictions.

The Goal blog has a comprehensive rundown of all the major credit cards and how they work with Apple Pay. Basically it boils down to this: you can use VISA credit cards with Apple Pay but are limited to store purchases. You cannot use VISA for in App purchases, web purchases or Suica reloading.

Transit
The only transit card that works with Apple Pay is Suica. None of the other IC transit cards such as PASMO SMART, ICOCA and PiTaPa can be loaded into Apple Pay but JR East has said that you can use Suica with all Suica compatible transit card systems, which covers most of Japan.

I covered Suica details in a previous post, the only new detail to add is the VISA restriction above. You can only use American Express, MasterCard and JCB branded Japanese credit cards to reload Suica, and also auto reload via the soon-to-arrive Suica app.

There might be a single VISA exception with the JR East View Card. View Card includes Suica functions and auto reloading, and JR East has made a huge commitment for full Apple Pay support. Their Apple Pay press release simply states that View Card works with Apple Pay.

I have heard that foreign branded credit cards have worked for mobile Suica reloading on some Japanese feature phones. I look forward to testing my USA issued VISA card for Suica reloading when Japanese Apple Pay arrives.

Suica can also be used for store purchases as well and I find that Suica is the most widely available reader in the greater Tokyo area stores.

Credit Cards
Here is the list of Japanese credit cards that work with Apple Pay for Store purchases:

Type

Card

QUICPay JCB (JCB Originals and JAL)
Orico (JCB, VISA, MC)
Saison Card (JCB, VISA, MC, AMEX)
View (JCB, VISA)
MUFG Card (VISA, MC)
au (VISA, MC)
TS CUBIC CARD (JCB, VISA, MC)
iD Mitsui Sumitomo (VISA, MC)
Aeon (JCB, VISA, MC)
dCARD (VISA, MC)
SoftBank Card (VISA)

QUICPay, iD and Suica are commonly found together at store readers. Every card also has point systems and Apple has said  rewards and benefits will “just work.”

There are a few weeks to go until Apple Pay in Japan goes live. If Apple signs VISA up before then, all this could change and other card support could be added as well. We’ll know for certain when Apple Pay rolls out with the iOS 10.1 release in late October.