Ka-ching: Those Japanese NFC Feedback Sounds

Carefully crafted audio feedback is a helpful and important part of any user experience. The lovely Apple Pay ‘ka-ching’ sound is an excellent example. Japanese FeliCa networks incorporate sound feedback as a basic part of their customer experience. This is important because visual feedback from the NFC payment terminal is minimal at best and often missing altogether.

JR East Suica: the classic Suica beep is simple but effective. Simple is hard to do well and the petite, svelte Suica beep carries amazing well in extremely noisy, echoey stations without being annoying or blaring. For some reason it blends well with the Apple Pay sound. The full symphony of Suica feedback sounds are detailed here.

Suica at the cash register is the 2 beep sound which means the transaction has been deducted from the Suica stored fare (SF) as heard in this Suica TV ad, yet another happy catchy singing jingle ad that Japanese seem to prefer.

The other FeliCa payment networks each have their own transaction sound as heard in the following clip. In order: iD, nanaco, QUICPay, Edy and WAON.

The NFC-Pay sound is flat and blah:

Suica, iD and QUICPay sounds are easy to hear in a noisy environment like a cafe register area. Edy, nanaco, WAON and NFC-Pay are easily lost in the shuffle. Japanese payment networks have the right idea: make those ‘all done’ feedback sounds distinctive, and fun.

In America I have yet to hear any NFC payment terminal sound feedback at all. At a noisy Starbucks it’s hard to even hear the Apple Pay sound. Payment networks and equipment vendors like Verifone should pay attention and put more effort into creating a better user experience with distinctive, carefully crafted feedback sounds.

And for goodness sake, make it fun.