Suica Platform Update: JRE POINT September Point Campaign

JRE Points

Now that you have your JRE POINT account setup on the JrePoint iOS App, we have the perfect opportunity to get free JRE POINT with the just announced September Premium Point Campaign running September 28~30. If you purchase a grand total of ¥5,400 worth of goods on those three days you automatically get an additional 500 free points in addition to the regular points (¥5400=540 points). At least 1040 JRE POINT that you can turn around for a free ¥1,040 Suica Recharge.

In order to get the 500 free points you must first sign up for the campaign in JrePoint App. Launch the app, tap the Yellow campaign banner, scroll down the campaign page, tap “Entry” and you are done.

The only thing left to do is shop at any store that offers JRE POINT. Look for the green logo below. At the register give the cashier your plastic JRE POINT card and pay anyway you want to: Suica, credit, cash.

There is a Kaldi Coffee Farm store in the Asagaya Station Beans Mall. I need some coffee and things and can kill ¥5,400 in less than a minute there. I’ll pay with my BIC CAMERA View JCB card and get JRE POINT + BIC CAMERA POINT. The latter will kick me over the line so I can pick up a new Apple iPhone case there for free.

Now that’s what I call platform lock in.

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Suica Platform Update: Using JRE POINT

JRE Points

The previous Suica Platform update outlined the upcoming migration of various JR East point systems for Suica, View Card, etc., into one single JRE POINT system. That happened on June 28 and is now complete. Here’s a quick overview guide to help you get the most out of using Apple Pay Suica. The initial setup seems convoluted but is gradually getting better and more streamlined. Setup complete you can start racking up points for free Suica Charging.

JRE POINT Setup

You will need a few things:

The first step is the JRE POINT Card. Get one at any JR station area store displaying the green JRE POINT logo and get a free JRE POINT Card by filling out a simple form with name, address and email.

Next step is creating an online account on JRE POINT WEB:

  • Create a temporary account with a email address and password. I strongly recommend using the same email address and password you have for Mobile Suica. It will make your life easier. JRE POINT WEB Online offers the option to sign in with JR-EAST ID but strongly recommend not using it.
  • After creating the temporary login and password you receive an email to complete the account setup. Follow the link and complete your JRE POINT WEB account. In addition to the regular login PW you also need to set a 6 number PIN that is called #2 Password. Be sure to write this down, I guarantee you will forget it otherwise.

The next important step is registering your card numbers in JRE POINT WEB:

  • JRE POINT Card# (You can register multiple JRE POINT Cards)
  • Apple Pay Suica ID# (You can register multiple Apple Pay Suica Cards)
  • View Card JRE POINT Card# (You can only register one View Card)

Install JrePoint App on iPhone and log in with your JRE POINT ID and password. The first time you log in you may encounter an annoying ‘confirm you are a person’ step where you have to find all the photos with car, a sign, etc.

If all is set up probably JrePoint App should display your current JRE POINT balance at the top of the main screen. You can also confirm the cards you have registered with JRE POINT.

Jre Point App Main Screen
When successfully logged into JrePoint App the main screen will show your ID and JRE POINT balance.

Getting JRE POINT

There are 3 ways to earn JRE POINT:

  • Use JRE POINT Card at stores displaying the green JRE POINT logo
  • Use Apple Pay Suica at stores displaying the yellow Suica JRE POINT logo
  • Use a JR East View Card for making purchases anywhere and for Apple Pay Suica Recharge

JRE POINT Card is a manual affair, present it when paying at a JRE POINT store and pay anyway you want to: Suica, credit, cash. Apple Pay Suica purchases at Suica JRE POINT stores and View card purchases anywhere automatically add JRE POINT to you account. Points are posted as follows:

  • JRE POINT Card points are added to JRE POINT account instantly
  • JRE POINT from Apple Pay Suica are added within 24 hours
  • JRE POINT from View Card are added at the end of the View card billing month

Do some research to find a card combination that makes your money work harder. For example: BIC CAMERA VIEW JCB Card + Apple Pay Suica + JRE POINT earns you JRE POINT and BIC CAMERA Points with store purchases and Apple Pay Suica Recharge that you can then turn around use for free Suica Recharge, buying anything at BIC CAMERA, exchange for gift coupons, etc.

JrePoint App Suica Recharge

We have finally arrive at the fun part of this whole exercise: exchanging hard-earned JRE POINT for a free Suica Charge. Open JrePoint App, login, tap ‘Use Points’, tap ‘Points Exchange for Suica Charge’ then tap ‘Suica ID#’.

The next screen shows you your current JRE POINT balance. 1 JRE POINT converts to 1 yen, 500 JRE POINTS for a 500 yen Suica Recharge, etc. Enter the number of points you want to exchange then tap ‘Confirm’. Check your information then tap ‘Apply’.

Suica Pocket in Suica App

You should instantly receive an email from JR East confirming your Suica Charge amount with a Suica Pocket ID# and a link. Tap the link which will take you to Safari page that says in Japanese ‘Open Suica App/Launch Suica App’. Tap Launch Suica App.

Suica App will launch and present you with a ‘Select Suica’ screen. Tap your Suica ID# which takes you to the Suica Pocket screen. Tap ‘Suica Charge’ and your Apple Pay Suica card should recharge immediately.

That’s it. Your JRE POINTS have been converted into Suica e-money you can use for Apple Pay Suica transit or purchase thus earning more JRE POINT. This guide barely scratches the surface. There are many more options and configurations available. Take some time with it and you’ll be rewarded much smarter e-money.

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All Twelves: A12 Bionic Powered NFC on iOS 12

A12 Bionic Powered NFC
A12 Bionic is powering some very interesting new NFC features on iPhone XS and iPhone XR

Many people were disappointed at WWDC18 when Apple did not announce any changes to Core NFC. What people really wanted was all 3 NFC Forum defined NFC Modes: Card Emulation, Reader/Writer and Peer to Peer. iOS Apple Pay supports Card Emulation and Reader/Writer but severely limits Secure Element access necessary for Card Emulation. Core NFC is just a limited Reader/Writer Mode sub-set. Only developers with hard to get Apple issued NFC Certificates could do more.

Suica App is a good example of an extremely rare 3rd party app with NFC Certificate access to the A-Series Secure Enclave (SE) because Apple implemented a ‘virtual FeliCa SE’ in the Apple A-Series chip. This allows Suica App to recharge Suica card directly without going through Wallet, one of the very few apps that can. But there are limitations to this virtual approach: iOS has to be up and running for virtual FeliCa to work and Apple Pay Suica cannot do what FeliCa does on Android which is still work on transit gates when the device is off.

There are limitations of case-by-case NFC Certificate special access: slow expansion of new NFC service partners. The lack of established public frameworks is one reason native transit card support in Apple Pay has been expanding so slowly with big established NFC Middleware players such as MIFARE still missing from the Apple Pay platform.

One new thing that did come out of WWDC18 was NFC Certificate powered NFC Wallet Passes for iOS 12. Apple previewed the feature to media and guests entering the Steve Jobs Theater at the September 12 event. NFC Certificate enabled technology is being used for Student ID Cards, NFC Tickets, NFC Rewards Cards and more. If Apple is allowing more developers to get PassKit NFC Certificates with the iOS 12 release, I hope we’ll see new updated Apple Pay pages highlighting these new NFC features and partners.

A12 Bionic NFC
One of the fascinating aspects unveiled on September 12 are new NFC features that A12 Bionic enables on iPhone XS and iPhone XR: Express Cards with power reserve for transit and Student ID Cards and Core NFC Background Tag Reading.

FeliCa Reserve Power Express Transit has been on Android Osaifu-Keitai smartphones forever and Japanese feature phones before that. This feature mimics a physical smartcard so that users can make it through transit gates with the smartphone off. As long as there is just a little residual current left in the battery, it works.

Super Powered Apple Pay Suica
As explained in the iOS 12 Security Guide, A12 Bionic has a special new residual low power state that allows virtual FeliCa implemented in the A12 Bionic Secure Enclave to support transactions without iOS up and running, similar to what exists on Android Osaifu-Keitai: no fancy stuff but enough to get the FeliCa Networks keys out of the FeliCa SE in A12 Secure Enclave and get you through the transit gate.

This ability of A12 Bionic to handle SE transactions without iOS running sets Global FeliCa on iPhone XS and iPhone XR apart from Global FeliCa on iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3/4. Apple Global FeliCa finally matches the performance of the Japanese Osaifu-Keitai standard with dedicated Sony FeliCa chips, on Apple hardware.

This ability of A12 Bionic Secure Enclave to function without iOS has other benefits as well: much better Apple Pay Suica performance. Apple Pay Suica on pre-A12 devices works great but never quite achieves the magic bulletproof performance of a plastic Suica card on transit gates. With Suica essentials running on A12 Bionic with no iOS overhead, Apple Pay Suica on iPhone XS really shines and is finally bulletproof. iPhone XS puts the disgraceful scandalous iPhone X NFC problem device where it belongs, the trash bin of Apple shame history alongside the Apple III.

FeliCa for Student ID Cards
The iOS 12 Security Guide also makes clear that Student ID Cards are Express Cards with power reserve just like Suica transit stored value (SV) cards that open door locks instead of transit gates. Blackboard is using FeliCa technology to power those and are running the backend system that handles account SV ‘recharge’ from Apple Pay, similar to what Mobile Suica cloud does. Apple has not licensed MIFARE yet, though the same technique can be accomplished with other Middleware stacks that support it.

A12 Bionic is also powering the new Core NFC Background Tag Reading feature. I suspect Apple’s aim here is similar: they don’t want people to be locked out their smart home just like they don’t want students with NFC Student ID Cards to be locked out of the dorm when iPhone runs out of battery. It’s all about capturing what is great about smartcards on a smartphone: they don’t need a battery to work. It’s also a strategic win for Apple Wallet in the contactless turf wars as A12 Bionic NFC effectively destroys all rational for QR Codes, especially for transit, as they are less secure and can never work without power and a network connection.

It will be interesting to see what developers do with the new A12 Bionic powered NFC features.

Update
An earlier edit suggested MIFARE based cards for UK and Taiwan transit were coming to Apple Pay. Apple initially limited mention of ‘Express Cards with power reserve’ to iPhone XS and iPhone XR specs in certain countries. Apple has updated spec pages worldwide to include ‘Express Cards with power reserve’. This confirms that iPhone XS and iPhone XR sold anywhere can use Apple Pay Express Transit Cards with power reserve in Japan and China. I have yet to find out if this also means that Apple Pay is adding support for more transit systems that can use Express Cards with power reserve in other countries.

Update 2
The updated iOS 12 Security Guide confirms that Student ID Cards are Express Cards with power reserve just like Suica transit stored value cards that open door locks.

Update 3
Confirmed that Blackboard is using FeliCa for Apple NFC Student ID Cards for Duke, Oklahoma, Alabama, John Hopkins, Santa Clara and Temple.

Update 4
Apple updated Apple Pay eligible device information confirming global FeliCa for iPhone XS, iPhone XR and Apple Watch Series 4.

Update 5
Quick review of iPhone XS Apple Pay Suica with Express Card power reserve that does more than just transit.

Suica App v2.2 Security Update…Again

This is an update of my previous post, copied below for reference. JR East is really going out of its way to make sure that everybody…EVERYBODY… updates to Suica App v2.2 to the point of sending out emails to people who have asked not to receive emails from JR East, pictured at bottom. They have never done this before. It sounds like some heavy-duty Mobile Suica cloud infrastructure reconfiguration will be taking place.

The only new information is that all previous versions of Suica App will not even boot or connect to Mobile Suica from September 5. JR East has already announced major unscheduled Mobile Suica maintenance downtime on that date 1am~4am JST with any remaining maintenance to be carried out September 12.

What’s the rush and the heavy breathing for? Wait a minute…do I smell a September 12 new iPhone announcement connection here? It’s sure fun to think so.

Previous post:

A security update for Suica App v2.2 has been released with a notice from JR East to update to the new version before August 28. From this date older versions of Suica App will no longer be able to log on and access the Mobile Suica network for Shinkansen e-ticket purchases, commuter plan purchases and other Suica app features.

The update is a security update with no new features. The JR East notice does not specify any details other than: “please update for better security”

JR East email notice:JR East Suica App Security Update Notice

Suica App v2.2 Security Update

A security update for Suica App v2.2 has been released with a notice from JR East to update to the new version before August 28. From this date older versions of Suica App will no longer be able to log on and access the Mobile Suica network for Shinkansen e-ticket purchases, commuter plan purchases and other Suica app features.

The update is a security update with no new features. The JR East notice does not specify any details other than: “please update for better security”