I followed all the smartEX registration instructions, honest I did. I logged into EX with my smartEX generated ID and password and purchased my Shinkansen ticket to Nagoya without a hitch. All looked good. At the appointed day and time I went to the Tokyo station Tokaido Shinkansen gate. Everything went to hell.
The station attendant placed my iPhone on the reader to diagnose the problem. Despite doing all the right steps my smartEX e-ticket purchase was not linking to my Apple Pay Suica. He then took me to a ticket machine and said, “Enter your smartEX password.” I use Touch ID with EX App and did not know the password, The poor attendant waited while I dug around in Safari passwords to find it. With the password entered he printed out a paper ticket.
The attendant told me that I needed to call smartEX system support to solve the problem. I asked if there was one. He grabbed a smartEX pamphlet but there was no number. He said, “There’s a number listed in the app.” There was not but I said thank you anyway and offered some advice, “I feel sorry for the station attendants if JR Central doesn’t improve smartEX. When the English language version of this drops on October 30, it will be a mess.”
smartEX Weak Points
I used my travel time to dig around in EX App preferences. It was time well spent. smartEX registration can only be done in the browser, but once completed you can edit account information in EX App. The app has a Touch ID log in option but there is a separate mandatory security layer for editing smartEX account information:
Generate a onetime password and receive it by email. After entering the onetime password you can edit all your registered information: name, email, credit card, Apple Pay Suica ID:
I re-entered my Apple Pay Suica ID and asked the Nagoya station attendant to confirm if my smartEX was correct. She placed my iPhone on the reader and confirmed that I was all set now. My return trip was a breeze, smartEX worked fine.
Apple Pay Suica ID Formatting Differnces and Errors
As I said previously smartEX registration is a work in progress and will certainly be a friction point for some inbound Apple Pay Suica users and boils down to the Apple Pay Suica ID number:
- Suica App only copies the entire 17 character Suica ID (screen shot below)
- smartEX only accepts a 15 character ID and automatically formats the pasted ID from Suica App deleting the final 2 characters
- smartEX does not automatically verify your Suica ID with Mobile Suica or Apple Pay. If you delete and re-add the same Suica card to Apple Pay, or migrate Suica to a new iPhone, the Suica ID number changes and you must manually update your smartEX Suica ID number. If you forget to do this smartEX will not let you through the ticket gate even though you have a valid e-ticket. This is exactly what happened to me.
Suggestion for Smooth smartEX Experience
Here is a suggestion for a smooth maiden smartEX voyage. The system by itself cannot verify if everything is in working order but JR Central station attendants at Tokaido Shinkansen ticket gates can verify it for you. Verification requires the following:
- Successful smartEX registration
- Successful smartEX login and e-ticket purchase
Tell the Shinkansen gate attendant that you want to verify your smartEX ticket purchase and hand them your iPhone. A quick check on the reader is all that is needed. If all is in order you are assured of a smooth process every time. Have your smartEX ID and password on hand in case something goes wrong. The attendant will need it to print out paper tickets.
Last but not least be sure to update your smartEX registered Suica ID number if you migrate Apple Pay Suica to a new iPhone, or delete and re-add it to the same iPhone.