Google Pay added Suica with a burst of fanfare in May 2018 that quickly soured when it became clear that Google Pay in Japan was just another Osaifu Keitai flavor. This was a year and a half after the highly successful launch of Apple Pay Suica that pretty much changed everything.
Mobile PASMO for Android Osaifu Keitai launched March 2020 followed by Apple Pay PASMO in October 2020, over a year later still no Google Pay PASMO. What’s the holdup? Does anybody really care at this point?
In short, 2021 was a very rough year for Google Pay. Nevertheless there are signs of new Google Pay services coming to Japan. For Wear OS the answer is definitely yes, for Android, maybe. Wear OS beta code strings referencing Google Pay Suica support appeared in late 2021. Today there was a reader tip of a “SERVICE_PROVIDER_PASMO” code reference in Google Play services v22.02.20 APK. Taken together it’s pretty clear that we’ll see PASMO coming to Google Pay and Suica expanding to Google Pay on Wear OS.
Timing wise the magic season for new service launches in Japan is March-April-May. They should launch together, it also makes sense for PASMO to land on both Android and Wear OS alongside Suica. The big question is whether Google Pay PASMO on Android will have the same Osaifu Keitai device restrictions that Suica has, or not.
This is why the Wear OS support angle interests me most. We’ve seen Mobile Suica expand to Garmin and Fitbit without using any Android Osaifu Keitai software. If Suica, and PASMO, on Wear OS uses the same playbook, it will mean much wider support on the growing number of smart wearable devices.
Which brings us back to Android. If Google Pay Wear OS doesn’t need Osaifu Keitai software to work, when will Google Pay on Android also cut the Osaifu Keitai cord?