Apple Pay Suica Self Checkout

JR East NewDays stores have been rolling out self checkout terminals which are very useful in small cramped station stores. If you have Apple Pay Suica avoid the cash register lines and give it a try. Just like any self checkout hold items up to the barcode scanner, tap Checkout/Pay on the touch screen and pay with Suica. The touchscreen offers Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean language options. My usual lousy video shows the process.


Why VISA Refuses to Join Apple Pay Japan

Apple Pay Wallet has an interesting animation that shows you exactly which card brands are supported in the selected region. The Japan region shows you: Suica, American Express,  Mastercard and JCB. No VISA. But wait, you can use JP issued VISA cards on Apple Pay with QUICPay and iD payment networks right? Yes but only on QUICPay and iD not for in-app and online purchases. This is why JP VISA cards don’t work for Apple Pay Suica Recharge in Wallet.

Apple Pay Japan VISA cards are ‘backdoor’ indirect support because VISA is required to support QUICPay and iD customers and licensees from previous agreements. To date VISA has yet to sign on officially with Apple Pay in Japan even though VISA issued a comment that they ‘hope to support Apple Pay Japan soon’ when the service launched in October 2016.

I have long suspected that VISA simply does not want anything to do with Apple’s support of the Global NFC standard put in place by the NFC Forum and GSMA/GCF in 2017. It’s not only Apple either. VISA refuses to support Docomo iD/NFC for Android Osaifu Keitai users abroad which Mastercard does. VISA simply wants to bide time until NFC Pay/EMV contactless support in Japan is everywhere and then simply ignore FeliCa (NFC-F) all together.

In short, it’s a power play to bypass FeliCa payment networks and grab a larger share of the cash register processing fee with payWave.

reddit user FeliCaDude has written extensively and authoritatively on all things FeliCa smartphone for a long time. His take on VISA’s Tokyo Olympic strategy matches mine, he also explains why Google’s HCE-F strategy for Google Pay in Japan is a dead-end:

If you want to talk about the Olympics, what you will see instead is more Contactless EMV terminals and Japanese issuers starting to issue Contactless EMV cards. That is the only thing acceptable to Visa and their huge piles of sponsorship money.

Google also has no interest in anything other than Android Pay. Their strategy will be to ride Visa’s coat-tails and wait for additional Contactless EMV deployment, at which point they will tie up with a major issuer and start Android Pay service in Japan. Currently what they have is a marketing sham that builds a thin veneer over Osaifu-Keitai. HCE-F cannot be used to emulate existing FeliCa-based payment systems because of the system code restrictions and lack of secure key storage.

Read the original posts on reddit, they are well worth your time. In Japan, aka the contactless payment turf war epicenter, the battle lines are stored value vs. credit card with stored value cards the clear winner so far. Let’s not forget there isn’t any money in Japanese merchant support of EMV contactless because most Inbound tourist business is mainland Chinese who only want to use QR code contactless AliPay and WeChat Pay.

It’s a shame but not suprising that VISA wants EMV contactless and payWave to be the only game in the world but that is just their business model. For transit systems there are better business models out there. Global NFC (A-B-F) is just a platform to build new kinds of business models on. Diversity is strength, and offers better business opportunities in the long run. Who cares about NFC flavors when smart devices take care of it all. It’s as simple as that.

Apple Pay Suica Spring Campaign 2018

Apple Pay Suica Spring 2018Apple Pay Suica Error Flicker Oneesan

JR East kicked off their Apple Pay Suica 2018 spring campaign today, running March 19 to April 30. It’s an exact repeat of the 2017 spring campaign:

¥1,000 Cash-back when you renew an existing commuter plan or purchase a new Suica commuter plan.¥1,000 Cash-back when you purchase ¥5,000 worth of goods with a new Apple Pay Suica card, ¥2,000 Cash-back for clearing both.

That sounds easy. The tricky part is that you have to use the Suica App and have a Mobile Suica account to purchase a new Suica commuter plan or receive the ¥2,000 cash-back refund. JR East has a nice Japanese language page to walk you through the Mobile Suica account setup. My English Suica App guide is here.The basic process is simply registering your Apple Pay Suica number in the JR East campaign page. When you clear the campaign goals you receive the cash-back refund in the Suica App Suica Pocket menu. Use Suica Pocket to add the refund to your Apple Pay Suica card balance.fullsizeoutput_89e2.jpeg


The Next Revolution Thing

A reader asked me why I didn’t mention smartwatches like Apple Watch Series 3 along with smartphones as the perfect match for transit platforms like Suica that are on Apple Pay. Apple Watch is a very popular choice for using Apple Pay Suica in Japan but there is one big drawback: you can’t load Suica directly into Apple Watch, you need an iPhone.

Apple Watch is a hit product but not revolutionary, not yet. Fitness and phone functions are extremely handy, necessary for some but not a must have for the many. An Apple Watch that can directly load a Suica card is just that, a must have device. It’s the kind of product that school systems built programs around so the parents can get one at a discount for their kids who ride the train or bus to school everyday. Pre loaded with Suica school commuter passes or course. And because Suica is stored value, parents control the allowance.

It’s not for kids either. Elderly parents who don’t want a fancy smartphone or operate one can just use a preloaded Apple Watch with Apple Pay Suica given to them by their children. The phone function is the necessary backup when one is needed.

If Apple gets there first, they will sell a ton of Apple Watches in markets like Japan where Apple Pay is matched with transit platforms. There is nothing better than transit for driving devices up the Golden uptake path.