Suica Apple Pay, SmartEX and the iPhone 8 Connection (U)

SmartEX explantion
Exactly what kind of smartphone is that? The SmartEX explanation diagram does not explain much. I guess we have to wait for the iPhone 8 announcement to find out.

It was a busy day for all things Suica Apple Pay. Earlier today I wrote about why Suica Apple Pay is the only transit card that matters now because Suica is the only transit card system that works on mobile:“SmartEX

The important question is what do all the other transit cards do now. They will have to build their own cloud infrastructure, or they will have to cut a deal with JR East. They can also do nothing but with everything going mobile, they risk losing business to Suica.

Immediately after posting it two things happened.

  • Mobile Suica and Suica Apple Pay services stopped. Suica charging with Apple Pay and adding Suica to Apple Pay didn’t work. 5 hours later services were restored.
  • JR Central announced a September 30 start date for their SmartEX Shinkansen service which promises smartphone reservation and purchases along with direct Shinkansen boarding for all 10 major IC transit card systems including Suica. They also announced special ticket pricing when using SmartEX but released no details about what smartphones are supported.

It’s pretty clear why JR Central won’t release smartphone platform support details: the Apple iPhone 8 Keynote has to happen first and the Apple Pay section will announce the addition of the other major Japanese transit cards.

It’s also pretty clear that JR East cloud infrastructure will be playing a big role hosting the other transit cards for the launch. Today’s Suica service outage was just part of the preparations. I hope things will go smoothly here on, but we could see more Apple Pay interruptions on September 30.

Play it safe. Buckle up and make sure you fully charge Suica Apple Pay right before SmartEX launch day.

Sankei News reports that a major internet outage hit Japanese backbone infrastructure related companies NTT Communications, and KDDI, and services such as Line the same time Suica was out. The Japanese government is investigating which is usually code word for cyberterrorist attack.

It looks like the JR Central SmartEX announcement was really coincidence after all with no connection to the Suica service outage. Regardless of the outage JR East Suica cloud infrastructure will undoubtedly play a big role as the other transit card systems have no mobile infrastructure and SmartEX Shinkansen is the first non-Suica mobile transit service.

In summary: Suica Apple Pay users should still buckle up on SmartEX launch day.