The Weekly

2022-03-14 Spring Cleaning

Mobile Suica day pass support started March 12

Mobile Suica App Day Passes
As promised Mobile Suica added day passes starting March 12. These are digital versions of the 4 day passes available for plastic Suica at JR East station kiosks: Nobiri Holiday, Tokyo Free Pass, Tokyo Ward Pass, Yokohama-Minatomirai Free Pass. Day passes are ‘same day’ purchases, valid from the first train through the last train of the purchase day.

Mobile Suica day passes are purchased via the smartphone app (Suica App on iOS, Mobile Suica on Android) and can be added to any Suica card displaying in Suica App that does not have a valid commute plan attached (expired commute plan Suica can be used). See the Suica App guide for purchase details.


Greater Kanto area Suica and PASMO extensions
March is always a busy month for transit companies, on the bright side new schedules go into effect and new services launch, on the not so bright side some older services are terminated. COVID has hit all transit very hard, but there are some good changes too such as increased Suica and PASMO Transit IC card use instead of paper tickets, and the extension of those networks.

March 12 saw two big launches, Suica 2 in 1 nolbé card with wide Gunma area bus support, and the Chichibu Railway joining PASMO. As the Yahoo Japan news blurb says, it’s finally possible for to ride all transit in Saitama Prefecture with just a Suica or PASMO.


Off Peak Commuter Suica Point Service Extension
Last but not least, the JRE POINT Off Peak Point Service campaign for Commute Suica cards (plastic and Mobile Suica) is being extended for another year, 2022-04-01~2023-03-31. The point service is being tweaked a bit. Instead of offering different point rewards for ‘early’ and ‘late’ commute times, the same points are given for both designate off peak times. The update also gives more points after 4 commuter pass transits in the same month. The program promotes commuter pass use and the updated point schedule doesn’t up the monthly max but it does offer max points to all Suica commuter users now, not just late off peak users.

JR East Off Peak Points

PASMO finally coming to Google Pay

Google Pay added Suica with a burst of fanfare in May 2018 that quickly soured when it became clear that Google Pay in Japan was just another Osaifu Keitai flavor. This was a year and a half after the highly successful launch of Apple Pay Suica that pretty much changed everything.

Mobile PASMO for Android Osaifu Keitai launched March 2020 followed by Apple Pay PASMO in October 2020, over a year later still no Google Pay PASMO. What’s the holdup? Does anybody really care at this point?

In short, 2021 was a very rough year for Google Pay. Nevertheless there are signs of new Google Pay services coming to Japan. For Wear OS the answer is definitely yes, for Android, maybe. Wear OS beta code strings referencing Google Pay Suica support appeared in late 2021. Today there was a reader tip of a “SERVICE_PROVIDER_PASMO” code reference in Google Play services v22.02.20 APK. Taken together it’s pretty clear that we’ll see PASMO coming to Google Pay and Suica expanding to Google Pay on Wear OS.

Timing wise the magic season for new service launches in Japan is March-April-May. They should launch together, it also makes sense for PASMO to land on both Android and Wear OS alongside Suica. The big question is whether Google Pay PASMO on Android will have the same Osaifu Keitai device restrictions that Suica has, or not.

This is why the Wear OS support angle interests me most. We’ve seen Mobile Suica expand to Garmin and Fitbit without using any Android Osaifu Keitai software. If Suica, and PASMO, on Wear OS uses the same playbook, it will mean much wider support on the growing number of smart wearable devices.

Which brings us back to Android. If Google Pay Wear OS doesn’t need Osaifu Keitai software to work, when will Google Pay on Android also cut the Osaifu Keitai cord?

2022-07-19 Update
The latest Google Play APK now includes PASMO artwork

Only Japan has cute transit card mascots?! Why?

I have been in Japan for so long that I assumed the cute, cleverly effective transit card mascot characters like Suica penguin, PASMO robot, ICOCA duck (er platypus?), etc., are employed by transit companies around the world. They are not. Let’s compare…

TfL Oyster? Not cute.

San Fransisco Clipper? So unoriginal.

Sydney Opal? Ditto.

Hong Kong Octopus? Borrowed mascot better than none?

For goodness sake, if transit companies around the world can’t implement the great technology that makes Suica great, they could at least create cute fun mascot characters that brighten the commuting day and help people feel good about riding transit again. And you do want people to ride transit again after the COVID nightmare right? Cleverly designed mascots with a touch of anime kawai’ are a great marketing tool for that.

Is it possible to move Suica to a different iCloud account?

asking for a friend but is there a way to remove a PASMO from one iCloud account, and move it over to a different iCloud account? My friend is a bit of an idiot and noob with iPhones.

This is a tricky question and even if possible, why bother? Most people would just add a new Suica•PASMO to iPhone which is very easy to do. Up until the big Mobile Suica reset on March 21 it wasn’t possible to migrate the Suica card anywhere else except a different device with same iCloud account. However, it is now possible to move the same Mobile Suica card between Android and iOS. PASMO doesn’t allow this yet because Mobile PASMO hasn’t received the same backend upgrade. If we were assigning version numbers Mobile Suica would be v2.0, Mobile PASMO would be v1.5. In Mobile Suica 2.0 the card ID, the Mobile Suica account email used for system ID, is independent of Apple Pay and Google Pay systems. Let’s take a look at how it might work.

Here is the Mobile Suica transfer path going from iOS to Android.

  • Requirements: Mobile Suica account, ID registered email and PW, latest versions of Suica App (iOS) and Mobile Suica App (Android) installed on both devices.
  • Step 1: remove Suica from Wallet on iPhone (this parks the Suica card on the Mobile Suica cloud server)
  • Step 2: on the Android device launch Mobile Suica and sign in with the same ID and PW
  • Step 3: follow the screen prompts to add the Suica card from the server to the device

One of the interesting points about Android is that the receiving device must have a valid SIM inserted, otherwise Suica will not transfer. In theory here is how the process might work going between different iCloud account devices:

  • Requirements: Mobile Suica account, ID registered email and PW, Suica App 3.0.3 or later (iOS) installed on both devices.
  • Step 1: remove Suica from Wallet on iCloud A device, sign out of Suica App or delete the app, restart device
  • Step 2: on the iCloud B device launch launch Suica App, tap [機種変更] (Transfer from Android) and sign in with the same ID and PW
  • Step 3: Tap [+], and (if the theory is correct), you should see the Suica card with balance on the server, add to Wallet

Remember this may not work as it is not officially supported by JR East, for security reasons, and I have no way to test confirm if this works or not. Even in the worst case that is does not work you still have the Suica card attached to the iCloud account. And remember, it’s very easy to add Suica and PASMO to any iPhone 8 and later or Apple Watch Series 3 and later.

The Super Suica Reference

The new features that make up 2 in 1 Suica are called many things. JR East calls it ‘Next Generation Suica’ and ‘2 in 1 Region Affiliate Card’. Yanik Mangan came up with a great ‘All-in-one Suica’ moniker in his limitless possibilities podcast. I call it, and will continue to call it, Super Suica because I see wider Suica platform initiatives built off the new FeliCa OS features used for 2 in 1 • next generation Suica. It’s a looser, fuzzier platform evolution definition compared to Yanik’s tighter all-in-one card solution focused one.

That doesn’t mean that Super Suica or all-in-one Suica will ever happen they way we envision it, but at least we have some convenient handles to discuss and categorize ongoing developments until something official comes along.

This is a list of announcements, launches and posts related to Super Suica as a platform with links to JR Group PR releases, color classifications as follows:

🟩= Suica cards • Suica region extensions
🟧= Mobile FeliCa, Mobile Suica + derivations (Mobile PASMO, Mobile ICOCA)
🟥= FeliCa Standard SD2• New FeliCa OS
🟦= Cloud Suica (transit fare) • JESCA-Cloud (e-Money payments)
🟪= ID-PORT Services

DateCategory • AnnouncementLaunched
September 2018🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 • FeliCa Standard SD22021
June 2019🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 for Tochigi
🟧Rakuten Pay Suica
2021-03
2021
September 2019🟩🟥Cross Region Commuter Passes for ICOCA-TOICA-Suica2021
October 2019🟧Mobile PASMO (hosted on Mobile Suica)2021
December 2019🟥🟧UWB Touchless Mobile FeliCa2024(?)
January 2020🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 Iwate Green Pass (Iwate)2021-03
March 2020🟪Eki-Net Shinkansen eTicket service2020
May 2020🟧Garmin Pay Suica launch
🟧Rakuten Pay Suica launch
September 2020🟥FeliCa Standard SD2 cards with new FeliCa OS features ships
November 2020🟧wena 3 (smartwatch+band) Suica launch
October 2020🟧Apple Pay PASMO launch
🟧Mobile ICOCA
🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 Iwate
🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 Hachinohe

2023-03
2022-03
2022-03
November 2020🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 Aomori
🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 Akita
🟩🟧🟪 Maebashi MaaS Suica services linked with My Number ID card
2022-03
2022-02
2020-12
January 2021🟩Cross Region Commuter ICOCA-TOICA-Suica launch with TOICA & ICOCA region extensions2021-03
March 2021🟩Cross region exit gates installed at Maibara and Atami stations
🟧Fitbit Pay Suica launch
🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 Yamagata announcement
🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 Gunma announcement (Nolbé)


2022-05
2022-03
April 2021🟦🟩Cloud Suica & Suica region extension announcement
🟪 Eki-Net reboot: cloud services and JRE POINT integration
2023-03
2021-06
June 2021🟧Fitbit Pay Suica expansion
🟩🟪Disabled fare Suica • PASMO announced for later in 2022

2022
August 2021🟩🟧🟪Suica Smart-Lock2022
November 2021🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 Shuhoku Orange Pass
🟩🟥Suica 2 in 1 TOWANDA
2022-03
2022-05
January 2022🟧🟪Mobile Suica support for day passes, student commuter passes2022-03
February 2022🟩🟧🟪Suica bike parking2022-02

🟩🟥Next Generation Suica 2 in 1 cards
A new card for integrating Transit IC and region cards in new ways focusing on Suica 2 in 1 Region Affiliate transit cards and FeliCa Standard SD2 • FeliCa OS as the core development. JR Cross Region Commuter Passes included as I suspect they also use SD2 Extended Overlap and represent a step towards cross region through transit for Transit IC.

🟧Mobile FeliCa • Mobile Suica
The evolution of Mobile FeliCa to include UWB touchless and multiple secure element domains for digital ID, Mobile Suica service expansion and hosting Mobile PASMO and Mobile ICOCA.

🟦Cloud Suica • JESCA-Cloud & 🟪= ID-PORT Services
Cloud based fare transaction processing and e-Money store payment processing reduce local processing hardware costs for easy expansion

  • Eki-Net reboot: more cloud based ticketing services tied to Transit IC cards and JRE POINT integration
  • Super Suica Cloud: March 2022 update of JR East cloud initiatives