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.
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.
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.
JR West joined Apple Pay on March 12 with their J-West VISA, J-West Mastercard and J-West JCB credit cards. The cards are on the QUICPay payment network (the spiffy updated Apple Pay on QUICPay page is worth a glance).
Now that JR West is playing nice with Apple Pay the big question is Apple Pay ICOCA next? Definitely maybe, especially if the Apple Pay China Transit signs spotted in iOS 11.3 beta 4 point to easier transit card support.
I have posted about ICOCA getting ready for Apple Pay, here and here, but so far there is no sign that JR West has the necessary cloud service in place yet for that to happen although SMART ICOCA is the beginnings of one. Then again JR West has much deeper pockets than say PASMO. They can certainly afford to cut a data deal with JR East Mobile Suica or build their own.
iPhone 8/X can achieve up to 500Mpbs download speeds on Premium 4G with 3CC CA (but only in central Japan for now). It’s the same for story for KDDI and SoftBank. An interesting side note is that the Apple Japan specs page originally published the iPhone 8/X top download speed as 800Mpbs then changed it.
5 months later Docomo has yet to upgrade their Tokyo area 4G network iPhone speed to 500Mpbs. The Docomo Speedtest app always shows Tokyo @ 450Mpbs (purple) with 500Mpbs (green) just a month out. But this Docomo tease has been going on for a few months now, the Green Speed is always just around the corner.
iOS 11.3 beta 5 bumped the Docomo carrier file number to 32.0 so maybe, just maybe the Green Speed finally arrives with iOS 11.3.