Asian iPhone 8 users are loving the Apple Pay Suica support.
In addition to the J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless announcement from T-Cubic, other Apple Pay benefits for Japanese users were announced by American Express. With iOS 11 Apple Pay AMEX users can now use Apple Pay Japan abroad.
7-Eleven also announced support for J/Speedy cards from JCB. Translation: 7-Eleven is rollout out support for NFC Pay with the new POS system installation starting next month. A lot of Japanese users think VISA will announce official Apple Pay Japan support soon now that NFC Pay is in place.
Apple’s support of global NFC (A-B-F) in iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3 with the NFC switching improvements in iOS 11 is a game changer. It makes Apple Pay truly global and removes the FeliCa barrier. Inbound visitors can use Suica, Japanese going abroad can use Apple Pay.
It’s unfortunate that people outside of Japan cannot fully appreciate the amazing changes that Apple is bringing to the contactless payments market with iPhone 8 and iOS 11 Apple Pay.
The big August 25 internet outage in Japan that Google apologized for was always a mystery. Nobody in the media explained what caused it. Yesterday I stumbled on the answer: a massive BGP (Border Gateway Protocal) leak. BGPMon has the full story and concludes:
BGP leaks continue to be a great risk to the Internet’s stability. It’s easy to make configuration mistakes that can lead to incidents like this. In this case it appears a configuration error or software problem in Google’s network led to inadvertently announcing thousands of prefixes to Verizon, who in turn propagated the leak to many of its peers… In this case it appears Verizon had little or no filters, and accepted most if not all BGP announcements from Google which lead to widespread service disruptions.
It is very weird, and scary, that Google and Verizon can quickly halt major and important services in Japan. But that is the internet and the world we live in now.
Update 9/22: The TS Cubic Apple Pay announcement was originally released September 20 then deleted. It was released again today. I updated the original post with NFC Pay details.
Apple Pay added support for two more Japanese credit cards: JCB J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless. Both are issued under Toyota Finance Corporation’s TS CUBIC Card brand. J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless are marketed as credit card brands specifically tailored for NFC and contactless payments. JCB issued a J/Speedy Apple Pay announcement as well.
The TS CUBIC press statement says the cards use the EMV Contactless standard but are also used “as QUICPay” with Apple Pay in Japan and require iOS 11. Japanese IT journalist Junya Suzuki reported via Twitter that J/Speedy and MasterCard Contactless both use NFC A-B not FeliCa. This appears to be a new iOS 11 Apple Pay feature that allows smart NFC A-B-F switching using the unique Apple Pay Japan device account two number scheme. This flexibility is an improvement over iOS 10 and a step towards contactless payments that ‘just work’ everywhere.
iOS 11 and Seamless NFC
This finally solves the mystery of the new Apple Pay Japan page NFC Pay (EMV Contactless) payment system logo that appeared after the iPhone keynote. The marketing angle is that customers can use J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless cards with Apple Pay in Japan and abroad. The number of Japanese stores supporting NFC Pay is still very small but expected to grow in time to receive the flood of visitors expected for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Using Apple Pay in Japan requires FeliCa (NFC-F) which is fully supported in iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3.
Apple Pay J/Speedy has arrived…again. After being announced and quickly pulled by card issuer Toyota Finance Corp’s T-Cubic, Apple Pay J/Speedy has been announced this time by JCB. The press release does not mention any issued cards, simply stating that Apple Pay now supports J/Speedy brand cards. Going by the deleted T-Cubic announcement Mastercard Contactless should be announcing Apple Pay support as well.
J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless use the new NFC Pay payment network based on EMV Contactless not FeliCa. The marketing angle is that customers can use the cards with Apple Pay in Japan and abroad. The number of Japanese stores supporting NFC Pay is still very small but expected to grow in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
iOS 11 is the software requirement on iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 devices sold in Japan, and all models of iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3.
Japanese IT Journalist Junya Suzuki, the top journalist covering contactless payment tech in Japan published a new piece in Engadget Japan this morning and is very much worth your time if your Japanese is up to it.
He goes into finer detail over iOS 11 Apple Pay support for NFC Pay and T-Cubics’s deleted J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless Apple Pay announcement (with a screen shot of the deleted page).
In short Apple Pay Japan supports NFC Pay (EMV Contactless) in iOS 11 as I wrote yesterday using the unique Apple Pay Japan device account two number scheme for each credit card. I am not sure how much smart NFC A-B-F switching is involved in the process, but the Apple Pay-NFC Pay back-end does not appear to be ready yet.
This is one reason T-Cubic quickly pulled their September 20 Apple Pay announcement. I suspect Visa Contactless is joining the party and was another reason, probably the real one for the holdup.
The merit for Japanese users is that iOS 11 Apple Pay features allow them to use J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless Apple Pay cards abroad. While this is convenient for NFC Pay compatible cards, it’s not yet clear if iOS 11 Apple Pay can provide the same benefit for FeliCa cards internationally as well. Perhaps it’s a backend thing.
KDDI au and NTT Docomo told Suzuki san that they are also working on NFC Pay credit card support as well but had no details at this time. It looks like there will be plenty of Apple Pay Japan announcements to look forward to in the coming weeks and months.
It seems fitting that Japan could be the first country to achieve NFC nirvana: any smartphone or credit card from anywhere ‘just works’ for contactless payment. This is what the Japanese government is hoping to achieve in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
This ‘everything just works’ goal is exactly what Apple is achieving now with Apple Pay Japan, global NFC in every iPhone 8, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3 and iOS 11 Apple Pay improvements.
NFC Pay, EMV, FeliCa and all that
T-Cubic’s hastily pulled Apple Pay J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless card announcement yesterday was a coming attraction preview for iPhone 8 and new Apple Pay cards that use NFC Pay. JCB J/Speedy cards and QUICPay network work with EMV (NFC A-B) and FeliCa (NFC-F). Mastercard Contactless and Visa Contactless are just EMV. And you thought Japan was only FeliCa.
An important clue was the July 4 Apple Pay addition of au Wallet. Look at the Apple Pay au Wallet payment method tweeted below: EMV contactless (NFC Pay). EMV does not use FeliCa (NFC-F), it uses NFC A-B. What is going on?
iPhone Region setting and NFC flavor
In iOS 10 the iPhone region setting determined what NFC flavor Apple Pay used. Cards loaded in USA region were all set to NFC A-B. Cards loaded in Japan region were set to NFC-F. According to KDDI au Wallet works both in Japan and abroad. But to use it abroad with iOS 10 you had to remove it from Apple Pay and add it back in with a different iPhone region setting to force set NFC A-B.
iOS 11 improves Apple Pay by using smart on the fly NFC A-B-F switching. This is why Apple can put the NFC Pay (EMV) logo alongside QUICPay (FeliCa/EMV), iD (FeliCa) and Suica (FeliCa). Based on yesterday’s leak, the QUICPay backend works with EMV (NFC A-B) and FeliCa (NFC-F) but iOS 11 is a requirement to do so.
In classic Apple form the important thing is it all works because Apple has pulled the disparate hardware and software pieces together into a seamless unified whole. iPhone 8 (NFC A-B-F) + iOS 11 (smart NFC switching) + Apple Pay = NFC Nirvana
Apple even moved that pesky MIC Felica certification mark from the iPhone case to the screen so iPhone 8 inbound users can add and use Suica without breaking Japanese law.
After T-Cubic’s sneak peek and the addition of NFC Pay to Apple Pay Japan, it’s clear more cards are coming to Apple Pay with iPhone 8: J/Speedy, Mastercard Contactless and likely Visa Contactless as well. Apple Pay Japan is quickly becoming the NFC payment system that does it all.
Japan could also become the first county to accept all major global NFC and contactless payment systems. One hopes other nations will return the favor for Japanese visiting abroad with iPhone and Apple Pay.