After posting about the surprise rise of Mobile Suica payment use it occurred to me that I failed to take the corporate transit angle into consideration. COVID has been hard on transit companies in many ways, especially now that there is much less need for commuter passes. But it has also been kind to Mobile Suica in unexpected ways, the appeal of Express Mode for transit and purchases that doesn’t care about face masks is undeniable, and Transit IC mutual compatibility lets Suica work as a national transit card. Japanese corporations are leveraging this last point as Mobile Suica takes care of nationwide corporate transit needs, and takes care of the travel expense accounting.
While there isn’t a need for dedicated commuter passes for people working remotely, companies still need to reimburse employees for travel they still need to do. Calculating and reimbursing plastic transit cards is a pain as it is for paper tickets. Mobile Suica as corporate transit card has several advantages here, it works nationwide for regular transit, for Shinkansen eTicketing (EX, Eki-Net eTickets, Touch and Go), for travel incidentals (taxi, meals, etc.), and it is much easier to pull itemized travel details online from Mobile Suica accounts.
The biggest advantage of Mobile Suica is SmartGo Staple and SAP Concur online integration with live JR East Suica transaction records for much easier corporate travel expense accounting. SmartGo is particularly compelling as it matches Mobile Suica account expense reporting with a corporate VISA prepaid card option, removing the need for monthly employee reimbursement. This matchup of SAP, SmartGO and Mobile Suica has made Suica the default transit tool for COVID era corporate Japan.
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