The SmartEX Start Line (U)

Apple Pay Suica Shinkansen EX Quick Guide

SmartEx HP

My predictions for SmartEX and more transit cards joining Apple Pay did not materialize. My mistake was assuming the other transit card companies had, or could build, a cloud service like JR East Mobile Suica. They do not. The low tech 2007 era web browser sign up approach for SmartEX is proof of that but fear not, it turns out SmartEX got an iOS app after all: an updated EX App:

The missing Apple Pay support does not mean SmartEX will not get smarter. It will. The low bar launch is about laying a solid foundation. This is the Shinkansen, everything must work, evertying must be failsafe. That’s why we love using it.

One important thing to remember is that SmartEX also marks the JR group smartphone interoperability startup date: you can now board a Shinkansen in Fukuoka, ride to Tokyo JR station, transfer to regular train lines and ride to your final destination with just Apple Pay Suica, Mobile Suica Android, or any one of the major (plastic) transit IC cards. Watch the video to see Apple Pay Suica in action.

As SmartEX improves I hope JR Central’s TOICA and JR West’s ICOCA will join Apple Pay at some point. The key will be how fast JR Central and JR West can build a shared mobile service infrastructure to make it happen. They will have to move fast if they want one in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Here are some screen shots of the updated EX App and the SmartEX reservation process from the SmartEX page. I will post a full review later.

The initial SmartEX registration process is limited to a web browser but once done you can go to the EX App for ticket purchases.

More inbound Apple Pay Suica #3

Apple Pay Suica inbound is happening faster and going to bigger than anyone expected. Apple will sell lots of new global FeliCa iPhones because of it.

suica inbound 3.jpg

Travel Back to 2007 with SmartEX (U)


SmartEX a new e-ticket reservation/purchase service from JR Central and JR West for Shinkansen travel between Fukuoka and Tokyo. The service starts September 30. Here is a quick summary.

The Good
-Use all 10 major transit IC cards for ticketless Shinkansen boarding
-Use Apple Pay Suica for ticketless Shinkansen boarding
Use the updated EX App to reserve and purchase SmartEX Shinkansen e-tickets
-Ticketless transfers from Shinkansen to regular train lines with Apple Pay Suica or transit IC card
-Discount for purchasing Shinkansen e-tickets with SmartEX
-E-ticket purchases with credit cards
-SmartEX membership is free

The Bad
-All other major transit cards outside of Suica don’t work with Apple Pay or any smartphone
-Discount for purchasing Shinkansen e-tickets with SmartEX is only ¥200
-No SmartEX or EX App Apple Pay support

The Ugly
-Registration can only be done with a web browser, just like 2007 era iPhone before the App Store.

TheSmartEX is JR Central/JR West’s first step into IC transit based card e-ticket purchase and ticketless Shinkansen boarding. The web browser based registration process is old fashioned, ugly and definitely not smartphone friendly but gets the job done. You register a email address, a credit card and the number of your Apple Pay Suica or plastic IC Transit card. You can then log in and purchase Shinkansen e-tickets with the EX App which are automatically linked to your Apple Pay Suica or IC Transit card.

Ticketless Shinkansen travel is convenient but you can get better Shinkansen discounts purchasing regular old paper tickets at a discount ticket store, or joining EX-PRESS Reserve if you travel regularly. Screen shots and links to the SmartEX site are included below.

Update: 9/30: Added EX App information, more details with video here.

Sign up for SmartEX the old fashioned way with a web  browser, you register a mail address, a credit card and the number of your transit card. This can be Apple Pay Suica or a plastic IC transit card.

After SmartEX registration on a web browser, you can log into the updated EX App to reserve and purchase Shinkansen tickets.


All the Proof You Need that Apple Pay Suica is Changing Everything

Here is a Japanese secret: men don’t make a hit product. All those geeky guys who lined up at the Omotesando SoftBank store in 2008 to buy iPhone 3G didn’t mean a thing.

iPhone truly arrived as a bona fide Japanese hit when iPhone 3G S appeared in women’s magazines. Suddenly you saw lots of young Japanese women with beautiful nail art furiously texting on the trains. With an iPhone.

Japanese women make or break hit products. If this tweet is true, it’s all the proof you need to know that Apple Pay Suica is a huge game changing hit and mobile payments have truly arrived.

Translation: a high school girl says “That person is using Apple Pay Suica, how cool!”


Oh, a New Apple Pay Suica Campaign


This one is for Apple Pay Suica commuter passes, a first. The catch copy reads: You knew that with Apple Pay you don’t have to line up anymore, right?

I hope to catch the real thing in Shinjuku.