Another Contactless Payment System Again

A sharp reader pointed out that in my previous post the PiTaPa NFC reader is a Panasonic JT-R550CR which is Global NFC A-B-F ready and capable of handling everything FeliCa and EMV contactless. The clutter of NFC readers is pointless. Why not consolidate all the payment networks on the JT-R550CR reader?  Would that it were so simple.

Part of the problem is PiTaPa. PiTaPa is IC transit card…sort of. PiTaPa was designed as a postpaid transit card instead of prepaid transit variety that everybody else in Japan uses. The transit portion is compatible with the Japan IC Transit standard so PiTaPa users can use the card for transit everywhere, and vice versa. But the e-money part of PiTaPa is incompatible with all other Japanese transit cards that reside on the black J-Mups reader next to the Panasonic white one.

The PiTaPa region is the Kansai which is the home power base for Sumitomo Mitsui Bank (SMBC) one of the powers behind the PiTaPa launch in 2004. SMBC wanted to sell PiTaPa as a new kind of SMBC credit card which is why PiTaPa applicants are vetted just like credit card users. Anybody can buy a transit card in Japan at the local station ticket machine. Not PiTaPa.

This is one reason that PiTaPa is a pariah with a very small retail footprint. It does not belong to the IC Transit stored value payment network or the FeliCa credit card networks, iD and QUICPay. Some users say, “a PiTaPa acceptance mark is a warning sign, not a welcoming one.” The lesson here is that credit cards suck at being transit cards no matter what BS the credit card companies or banks tell you, but we already knew that.

7 Eleven Acceptance marks do not include PiTaPa

On the payment network side things are getting interesting. CardNet took over J-Mups operations on March 30 and should be rolling out the NFC-Pay support that CardNet announced back in 2015.

  • CardNet/J-Mups: Shops, cafe/restaurant chains
  • JSIC: Small shops, cafes, restaurants
  • C-REX: Japanese Inns and smaller hotels

CardNet and C-REX are shaping up to be the ‘go to’ payment networks for midsize and smaller businesses. Both are neutral and inclusive. Rakuten Pay (Rakuten) and AirPay (Recruit) make similar claims but are really more for businesses that already have close ties with Rakuten or Recruit. Neither or them seem eager to play with Aeon Waon or 7 Eleven Holdings nanaco both of which are popular stored value cards with customers who shop there.

Going back to the original reader question I have no idea why there are separate readers for Edy and Waon when they are clearly listed on the black J-Mups reader. Who knows, maybe the store got a better transaction deal directly from Rakuten and Aeon. Hopefully all this nonsense can be put to rest before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

And yes Union Pay QuickPass is finally coming to Japan (courtesy of SMBC) but only at the Matsuzakaya Department Ginza store initially because Chinese with money like to shop there.