SmartEX service started September 30, I took the plunge and registered. It is not bad, but it is not smooth either. Here is a quick overview and first impressions. Your experience might be different, hopefully a smooth one.
Part 1 SmartEX Registration for Apple Pay Suica
This covers the smartphone version of the SmartEX registration process.
Step 1: email pre-registration email registration is the first and only pre-registration step. To continue you must receive an email with a special link to complete the SmartEX registration process. The mail has three links for different devices: PC, Smartphone, Japanese Keitai (i-mode).
Step 2: Receive email registration links select a registration link and enter the main registration process. You will need to register your name, password, birthdate, phone number, credit card and the ID of your Apple Pay Suica or other transit card.
Step 3: Name registration Enter your name, birthdate and phone number and create an account password. The name field is a rough spot and you’ll need to pay attention to the input method. The name order is standard Japanese format: family name first name but if you want to use Roman characters you must input them as “Zenkaku” Japanese full (double byte) width. Either that or just input Katakana in both Name and Furigana fields.
Step 4: Credit Card registration This is another rough spot. After entering your credit card information you will have to verify it. Be sure to have your card verification credentials ready. Verification will depend on the card brand. In my case the browser page switched to a very small JCB verification screen and to verify with a View card web account password. Other cards may ask for a pin-code.
Step 5: Transit card registration Your Apple Pay Suica ID is found in the Suica App. Open the app and touch the little “i” icon near the lower right hand corner of the Suica card picture. The Suica ID is the second line of information, a 17 letter-number string that starts with the letters JE. Tap and hold to copy the ID number.
You need to be careful when pasting the Suica ID into the SmartEX IC registration field. The Japanese instruction says to input 15 characters but this did not work for me. I had to paste the entire 17 character string into the registration field. The last step is matching the JE 2 letter code in the pop-up.
Step 6: Set an optional email You can set up to 3 different email accounts for receiving SmartEX notices. You can skip this part.
Step 7: Touch OK and confirm: go back to the main entry screen and continue to the confirmation screen (#6).
Step 8: Receive email with your SmartEX ID number Keep the SmartEX ID number handy as you will need it to log-in.
Part 2 SmartEX Log-in and Ticket Purchase with EX App
This only covers Shinkansen reservation and e-ticket purchase with the EX App. There is also a web browser option. In you do not have the EX App installed, download it from the Japan App Store.
Step 1: SmartEx Log-in Select SmartEx from the pop-up (#1), enter your SmartEX ID number and password (#2). The EX App will ask if you want to turn on Touch ID. This is convenient and recommend it.
Step 2: Make a reservation Chose the date, time, trip destination and number of passengers from the menus (#3).
Step 3: Select a Shinkansen Select the Shinkansen you want from the search list (#4). The 3 tier icons indicate seat availability (e)
Step 4: Seating: select reserve or non-reserve seating (#5) with reserve seats you can also select a general seating area (f) or chose a specific seat (g). Tap “Continue Reservation” (#7) to continue.
Step 5 Confirmation and purchase: once you are confirmed tap the orange “Reserve and Purchase” (#8). Remember that once you tap this the purchase is immediate. Cancellation and refund costs ¥300. The final screen confirmations a successful reservation and purchase (#9) and the link to your Apple Pay Suica (h).
The SmartEX registration process is a little rough around the edges. It would be better as an app process and hopefully will get there soon. Once you are finished and signed into the EX App e-ticket reservation and purchase is smooth. Be careful and pay attention to the button colors. Only touch the orange purchase button if you are completely sure of your purchase, a cancellation and refund costs ¥300.