What is Mobile PASMO?
Mobile PASMO is an app service identical to Mobile Suica, for Android v6 Osaifu Keitai devices or later, and iPhone 8 / Apple Watch 3 and later running iOS 14 / Watch OS 7 later this year. Users can recharge a virtual PASMO card on the device with a registered credit card, purchase or renew commute plans, view use history, restore the PASMO card from the cloud in case of a lost device, PASMO bus transit users can also earn ‘Bus Toku’ points. Details are listed on the Mobile PASMO site (Japanese only).
Is it compatible with Google Pay? (Updated)
Not at this time. Users need to be careful: active Google Pay blocks Mobile PASMO transactions. Bank cards are limited to Mobile PASMO app registered credit cards: American Express, JCB, Mastercard, Visa. Credit card registration is processed by PASMO and seems to be the weakest part of the system where users are experiencing the most trouble (the rest of the system appears to be licensed Mobile Suica IT assets). Only Japanese issue cards are accepted.
Is the Mobile PASMO app multi-lingual? (Updated)
Everything is Japanese language only. Android users can download the Mobile PASMO app on Google Play.
Can I use Mobile Suica and Mobile PASMO on the same device? (Updated)
Only 6 recent Osaifu Keitai Type 1 devices support multiple transit card installs. On older Type 2 devices you can only install one and have to choose. As FeliCa Dude explains in his excellent Reddit post, “Mobile PASMO: the “me-too” that’s all about them, and not you” the Mobile FeliCa Android stack on older FeliCa chip devices isn’t like Apple Pay and does not support multiple transit cards or the ability to select one for Express Transit. Type 1 devices updated to Osaifu Ketai 8.2.1 can set one (and only one) ‘main card’ for Express Transit use, with Mobile Suica and Mobile PASMO on the same device. A full downloadable PDF device list of Type 1 (Mobile Suica and Mobile PASMO), Type 2 (Mobile Suica or Mobile PASMO), Type 3 (Mobile Suica).
If Mobile Suica and Mobile PASMO are basically the same, does it matter which one I use?
It all comes down to commuter pass use, if you live in the Suica/PASMO region and use a JR East line on any part of your commute, Mobile Suica is the best choice that gives you the most options on Apple Pay and Google Pay. If you do not ride a JR East line as part of your commute, you must choose Mobile PASMO for commuter pass use.
When will PASMO be available on Apple Pay? (Updated)
Apple Pay PASMO launched October 6.
Isn’t next generation ‘2 cards in 1’ Suica supposed to fix this redundancy? (Updated)
Mobile PASMO throws cold water on the one big happy mobile transit family concept of next generation Suica: sharing resources instead of “me too” fiefdoms. Even if the new card architecture fixes all the current shortcomings, which it is supposed to do, nothing can fix the selfish mindset of transit companies who refuse to cooperate. As FeliCa Dude points out, Mobile PASMO is the result of JR East and PASMO Association failing to cooperate and mutually host commute plans.
UPDATE: Japanese programmers digging into Mobile PASMO details find that PASMO licensed Mobile Suica IT assets for Mobile PASMO service. This makes a lot of sense and is an encouraging sign that Mobile Suica cloud resources will be licensed to host other transit IC cards for Mobile ICOCA, TOICA, manaca, etc.
UPDATE 2: Junya Suzuki posted an article with more Mobile PASMO system details. One leading company in the PASMO Association (Tobu, Keio or Odakyu) licensed Mobile Suica assets and technology from JR East. Cut and paste IT. As said above, this is encouraging because other transit companies (JR West, JR Central et al) can license Mobile Suica assets and park it on whatever cloud service they want: AWS, Azure, NTT Data and so on. Mobile plumbing for connecting Apple Pay and Google Pay is already in place.