Yes. You read that right. A JR EAST EMV Contactless VIEW JRE CARD that doesn’t come with Suica functionality. Just a plain old credit card with a EMV Contactless logo.
Up until now JR East has only offered multifunction VIEW cards that combine a credit card and SUICA into one card. I myself have a BIC CAMERA VIEW card in Wallet and use it all the time but never use the plastic Suica card function because I have Apple Pay Suica. That’s the thing about transit card + credit card multifunction cards, they are a pre-mobile era product that offered the convenience of a credit card with auto-charge Suica in one plastic package.
In the Apple Pay Suica era these multifunction cards are superfluous. Suica App takes care of the auto-charge options, Wallet takes care of the rest. As YouTuber Kenzy201 points out, Mobile Suica is so ubiquitous in Tokyo that it’s a life hack, especially now that Mobile Suica and PASMO high school/junior high school commute passes are bringing a whole new demographic into the mix. If you think 20 million Mobile Suica users is some kind of achievement, wait for a year or two of HS/JHS Mobile Suica commute pass users to clock in. In short JRE CARD is a EMV contactless VISA card for Mobile Suica users. I think it’s the start point of JR East’s transition away from multifunction VIEW Suica cards with more JRE POINT replacing multifunction as the lure.
The first EMV Contactless VIEW CARD designed for Mobile Suica
Kenzy explains the ‘why now?’. Design wise the ‘numberless’ front is a little more secure and social media friendly (name, number, etc. are on the back), nice but not very important. The real reason are stingy JRE POINT transit rewards with plastic Suica cards, if you want to earn JRE POINT for JR East transit, Mobile Suica is, by far, the best choice. There is also the 3.5% JRE POINT reward when shopping in JRE POINT stores. Combine that with 2X or 4X JRE POINT shopping days and you have a good return. The only down side compared to my trusty old BIC CAMERA VIEW is the annual ¥525 JRE CARD membership fee (free the first year), but since I shop regularly at JRE POINT stores, JRE CARD is a better deal and pays for itself.
And there is the EMV Contactless angle. JR East has already issued the first EMV Contactless VISA VIEW CARD for corporate users without Suica because corporate issue multiple user Suica does not exist. The new JRE CARD VISA is a personal card with EMV Contactless that follows the footsteps of similar recent credit cards from JR West and JR Kyushu…but the ever growing Mobile Suica user base puts JRE CARD in a unique and completely different market position.
Why only single mode EMV?
There are plenty of dual-mode payments cards that combine EMV Touch with iD or QUICPay, why doesn’t JRE CARD offer EMV Contactless + Suica? Kenzy says it boils down to conservative rail transit ‘fail-safe’ operation management. If you examine the EMV Contactless open loop test installments they all have one thing in common: separately well spaced readers, one Transit IC FeliCa, one EMV, one QR. Japanese rail transit operators want the different reader technologies far apart from each other to prevent card clash, misreads and other potential errors. All-in-one readers are always the worst choice with the worst performance.
That’s why JR East doesn’t want to issue a EMV + Suica plastic card. Or so Kenzy says, I agree but also think VISA EMV Contactless support makes JRE POINT an easier sell for signing on merchants and expanding its retail footprint. He also misses the Apple Pay Wallet angle. With plastic JRE CARD you have single mode EMV, but JRE CARD in Apple Wallet is automatic dual-mode EMV + QUICPay. And with Suica already in Apple Wallet, users have the most choices. It’s the one mistake in his fine explanatory video that covers all the in and outs and how JRE CARD connects to JRE POINT Stages coming in October. Basically JRE CARD earns 3X other VIEW CARDS. Well worth watching.