Apple Card and Apple Cash Trademark Applications for Japan

The CoRRiENTE.top site reports a JP trademark bot tweet that shows Apple applied for Apple Card and Apple Cash trademarks in Japan on July 16, the trademark bot tweet itself is dated August 4. The application follows recent similar moves in Europe and other countries. The official launch of Apple Card in America is expected in the next week or so.

Japan will likely be unique in that Apple Card and Apple Cash in other countries will be EMV only, but FeliCa and EMV dual mode for Japanese digital issue. Mastercard, American Express and JCB already offer dual mode service for Japanese issue Apple Pay credit cards, which work well with NFC switching introduced in iOS 11 and global FeliCa iPhone/Apple Watch.

If Apple really wants to innovate with Apple Card, leverage the global NFC capabilities of iOS 13 and iPhone, and leave outdated single mode plastic credit card business practices in the past, they should go all in with dual mode Apple Card for all regions. After all it is Apple’s card, and virtual like the Apple Card tag line says, “Apple Card lives on your iPhone, in the Wallet app. And that makes all kinds of new things possible.”

Mastercard has been the most aggressive card company offering dual mode for Japanese Apple Pay card holders. Offering dual mode for virtual Apple Card customers everywhere can be done and would be one heck of an innovation for inbound visitors with iPhone and Apple Card for the Tokyo Olympics.

It will be interesting to see how Apple integrates Apple Card with the Japanese contactless payment networks: iD, QUICPay, and NFC Pay, how Apple Card/Apple Cash integrate with Suica Recharge and what kinds of reward points are offered.

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iOS 13 Apple Maps Japan: Move along folks there’s nothing to see here yet…

I’ve been wanting to write about iOS 13 Apple Maps Japan since beta 3, but the big marquee features that really matter, New Maps and Look Around, won’t be coming to Japan until very late in the iOS 13 release cycle. They’ll arrive just before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for which Apple has promised to deliver a good map product. Other major map parts, like the redesigned Nearby and Point of Interest (POI) icons, are not fully deployed for Japan yet, so a review at this point is out of the question.

Fortunately, Ryan Christoffel of MacStories has published a helpful review of iOS 13 Maps USA, where most of the map parts are actually working. Please read his review and I’ll comment on the sections he outlines that make sense to comment on, given the unfinished state of iOS 13 Maps.

New Maps/Look Around
Apple is working hard to deliver these to Japan. I look forward to seeing and reviewing them in 2020. I hope for the best but given Google Maps Japan meltdown experience after dropping JP map supplier Zenrin, I have serious doubts Apple can deliver a consistently good map product that covers all of Japan in detail. We shall see.

Favorites/Collections
Anything would have been an improvement over the iOS 12 style Favorites/Recents list, and iOS 13 Maps is a definite improvement that I look forward to using more. Problems remain however, adding train lines so that transit updates appear in the Maps transit widget are still a complete mess, and favorited stations labels remain too vague to be useful. Which Shinjuku station are we talking about here: JR Shinjuku, Seibu Shinjuku, Keio Shinjuku, Metro Shinjuku, and so on.

Real Time Transit
Google Maps Japan and Yahoo Japan Maps have had this forever, and continue to evolve their features. Apple is just adding this basic service now, almost 3 years after Japan transit arrived in Maps. iOS 13 Maps Japan offers real time transit, while Google Maps Japan offers real time transit, platform numbers and boarding positions. The sad part is that Apple, Google and Yahoo Japan pull data from the same source, but Google and Yahoo Japan make far better use of it with constant incremental upgrades and improvements. And iOS 13 Maps transit widgets remain as useless as always.

The takeaway here is that Apple needs to decouple map service improvements like transit from the annual iOS development cycle. This is killing product evolution.

What’s Missing
Christoffel covers missing pieces that are different from Japan map needs, some of them covered in my WWDC19 wish list: Traffic, Junction View, Share ETA. There are also important things that Chirstoffel doesn’t cover at all: good quality indoor/underground station maps that are critical for Japan and a must have for the Tokyo Olympics.

Dark Mode Apple Maps

iOS 13 Apple Maps Japan: Death by Point of Interest in the dark

Christoffel doesn’t mention dark mode maps at all. On purpose? Smart people like Howard Oakley and Michael Tsai question the current implementation of iOS 13 Dark Mode. From the perspective of the current beta Apple Maps Japan dark mode I can only say this: the Apple designers who think this looks good enough to be useful should be banished to a life where the only map they are allowed to use is dark mode Apple Maps.

Perception and Reality

I like writing but am no writer, so I prescribe to the ‘if you’re not a sharpshooter shoot lots of bullets’ school of wannabes. When the Financial Times, “The painful path of curing Japan of its cash addiction” (paywalled) piece came out, I had 2 hours to kill before going on a business trip and decided to post something while my reaction was fresh, figuring nobody would read it. The piece has not gotten many hits, but a few western journalists based in Tokyo tweeted about it recently, defending the FT piece and the overall ‘Japan failed’ game over narrative.

Here’s the thing. The cashless payments market landscape in Japan is the most messy and exciting one in the world right now. Nowhere else can you find such a concentrated investment in contactless payment infrastructure and different technologies (EMV, FeliCa, QR Codes, smartphones, etc.) competing and playing out in the market.

Japan is also the world’s great guinea pig test market. What works here first is adapted and deployed in other markets, like mobile payments. My take, covered in countless messy posts over the span of 2 years, is actually quite simple. The market revolution of mobile payments and smartphones is just getting started. The hot messy exciting payments situation you see happening in Japan right now will play out, in some other form, in other markets later.

That’s the story I think western journalists are missing. The ‘game over’ Japan narrative has been a stock western journalist in Japan ploy since the end of the Japan bubble, almost 30 years ago. A lot of journalists stick with it because it still sells. It’s entertaining for some people, but it doesn’t convey reality or educate.

JR East getting NFC-F added to the NFC Forum certification process and getting Apple to add global FeliCa to every iPhone and Apple Watch, to me, is an interesting story. Google following Apple’s lead and adding that same capability to every Pixel 3 device (but only turning it on for the JP market), to me, is an interesting story. It tells us where Apple and Google are going.

Our smart devices are quickly evolving into ‘do everything’ devices that, unlike plastic, don’t care about any particular payment technology. They just work. That’s where the puck is going. If you sit around declaring that the game is over, you’re gonna miss the game. And the opportunity to tell people about it.

Apple Pay Octopus Screenshot Leak

There have been plenty of ‘Apple Pay Octopus is coming’ leaks since Octopus Cards Limited (OCL) and Apple started testing in December 2018, but there has not been a single screenshot leak, until now:

The dark mode Octopus card detail UI here does look legit and definitely iOS 13. Oh if I could only get my grubby hands on it. Hopefully we’ll get official details from Apple soon, perhaps in tandem with the Apple Card rollout due this month.

7-Eleven Japan Kills 7pay QR

After the rocky start and security meltdown of 7-Eleven’s 7pay QR Code payment service launch on July 1, the service suffered from an endless parade of mishaps and mistakes, such as forcibly migrating nanaco accounts to 7pay without telling users, and a very recent and rocky password reset. Public and media perception of the service had dropped to the point where 7pay was better off dead, which 7-Eleven announced today. 7pay is dead as of September 30.

As I said before:

the low bar QR Code entry point only resulted in incompetent players setting up payments systems. The resulting mess and confusion ends up destroying the very cashless migration momentum the industry worked hard to create.

The incompetent players here were 7-Eleven entrusting 7pay development to a new unproven company group instead of leveraging the seasoned in-house management experience, and solid service record, of their own nanaco prepaid card.

I knew something was terribly wrong from July 2 at a local 7-Eleven, one of the best family run 7-Eleven stores in Japan with several service quality rewards from HQ. The owners son spent 10 minutes patiently explaining to a woman customer how to get the free 7pay sign-up onigiri she wanted. It was clear that the startup campaign details and the migration of nanaco points were poorly done and confusing to everyone.

Despite the western media spin of portraying the 7pay meltdown as a symptom of a larger Japanese incompetence migrating to a cashless society, this is simply the incompetence of a single company who wanted to cash in on the QR Code fad, who thought they could fast track creating a new payment service without focused thinking or doing the required work of building a great product.

The final score: 808 customers scammed for ¥3,8615,473 worth of stuff, all victims and 7pay account balances to be refunded in full, the reputation of QR Code payments in tatters.

Good riddance.


Previous 7pay coverage:
Another QR Code Payment Launch, Another Security Meltdown July 3
The QR Code Tipping Point July 4
QR Codes and Big Data July 5

Update
Junya Suzuki has posted a post mortem analysis, if you value security and still use the 7iD app, or the Omni7 site, which will continue operations, be aware that in Suzuki san’s opinion these still carry a security risk. Seven & i Holdings has not come clean. Until they present a comprehensive security overhaul, be careful using those services.