Mizuho Bank and JR East announced and released Mizuho Suica for Apple Pay along with a new 2.0 version of the Mizuho Wallet iOS App this morning in Tokyo. Mizuho Wallet v2 allows Mizuho Bank account holders to create a virtual Suica for Apple Pay and recharge Mizuho Suica directly from their linked account in Mizuho Wallet. Users can also recharge Mizuho Suica with any Apple Pay credit card or with cash and use it just like any Apple Pay Suica for transit and purchases.
The Mizuho Wallet App splash screens illustrate setup and use. Mizuho Wallet is unique in that it is the first 3rd party iOS app that Apple and JR East has allowed to create ‘virtual’ Suica. Up until now only Suica App could do that. Unfortunately both apps are still only in Japanese language. There are other limitations: only Mizuho Bank account holders can create a virtual Mizuho Suica and Mizuho Suica can’t be used in Suica App for commuter plan, Shinkansen e-ticket and Green ticket purchases. The press release implies Suica App compatibility will be coming later.
The Mizuho Bank group has been making a lot of noise recently about creating a cashless Japan by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with QR Codes getting most of their attention. Today’s Mizuho Wallet App and Mizuho Suica release proves that transit is the golden uptake for contactless payments and QR Codes have no part in that in Japan. Another interesting point is that Mizuho Suica is only on Apple Pay.
Japanese reactions on Twitter are a hoot: “this is great, now I don’t have to go to the trouble of applying for a Mizuho Debit Card,” “This looks like Mizuho is just skimming cream off of JR East,” “Does this mean the Mizuho JCB QUICPay debit card is dead or what?” “Argh! I want a green Apple Pay Suica but don’t have a credit card so have to do with a blue Apple Pay Mizuho Suica.” “No auto-charge? Forget it.”
Seriously though this kind of Suica branding for Apple Pay has interesting possibilities with far more important implications than today’s announcement: PASMO Suica, ICOCA Suica, TOICA Suica. A neat solution for getting all the other plastic only Japanese IC transit cards onto Apple Pay. One interesting detail from today’s announcement backs up that possibility: DNP provides the technology back end of the Mizuho Wallet App. Print giants DNP and TOPPAN have deep connections to smartcard and credit card manufacturing and supply most of the Japanese issue IC cards. It makes sense for DNP and TOPPAN to provide app backends for Japanese transit companies who don’t have the means to roll their own apps. More details here.