Assumptions

Social media is great for exchanging bits of information but terrible when it comes to conveying context. ‘Most of my friends’ and ‘outside of greater Tokyo’ are poor generalizations and not very useful because they belong to specific, and unexplained, use cases. I often find that people coming to Japan from large continents assume the country is small, which it’s not, and that all Japanese do everything the same, which they don’t.

It’s probably true that I place too much importance on Suica, but that’s because I use it so much. I live in Tokyo, my workplace sponsored commute pass is Suica, most of my daily purchases are with Suica, most of my points and Cashless rebates are Suica. I am plugged into Apple Pay Suica with a View/JCB card setup with auto-charge.

My Suica life is good but what about people living outside the Suica commute region, or inbound longer-than-short-term visitors without Apple Pay cards? The Apple Pay country list is short with many Latin America and Asia Pacific regions still missing, Mexico and India for example. No Apple Pay credit/debit card means Apple Pay Suica is a side grade because it’s still tethered to cash only station recharge kiosks and 7 Eleven ATMs.

Credit card recharge makes all the difference. A true upgrade from plastic Suica that is strictly one way. Once there you never want to going back. It’s the upgrade that will free users from huge lines at station recharge kiosks during the Olympics, and just plain common sense at huge crowd events like Tokyo Comic Con. The Suica + Rakuten alliance and Super Suica will bring massive changes to Japanese transit card universe but the majority of benefits will only apply to mobile use.

I don’t care if people stick with plastic Suica or migrate to Mobile Suica on Apple Pay/Google Pay/Osaifu Keitai. Plastic transit cards are small, convenient, don’t require a battery, but they come with limitations and issuance is a major cost factor for operators. All I care about is that people have hardware choices and the opportunity to go mobile with their local region transit card. Having options is a good thing, let people decide for themselves.

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