That’s a huge incentive to drive transit users from plastic Suica to Mobile Suica. The same JRE POINT rates apply to Green Car Seat purchases. And get this, only Mobile Suica Commuter Plan purchases and renewals are eligible for JRE POINT with 1 JRE POINT per 50 yen of the purchase/renewal. This is a sweet deal if your company sponsors your commuter pass. They give you the money, you get the points. Ugh, now I have to hold off renewing my Apple Pay Suica Commute Plan until October 1 but the points are worth going without my commute plan for a few days. JR East’s big push for Mobile Suica over plastic is remarkable and will become a shove when the next generation ‘Super Suica’ format arrives in April 2021.
Today’s announcement only applies to regular train travel but JR East will be adding a lot more in 2020~2021 as the Super Suica start date approaches: JRE POINT for Touch and Go Shinkansen travel starts with the new JR East eTicket system in April 2020, Round trip fixed travel route coupon-like JRE POINT is due December 2020. And finally, with Super Suica in place, the regular express train/Shinkansen ‘EkiNet‘ ticketing and point system will be rolled into the JRE POINT system. Travelers can then earn and use JRE POINT to purchase regular express train and Shinkansen eTickets and upgrade seats. It will be Apple Pay Super Suica eTicket bliss.
Apple Pay is sure to have a segment during the September 10 Apple Event. Here is my roundup of what to expect based on previous coverage.
Apple Card Apple Card did not get its own press event rollout in August, this will be the closest thing. We will certainly get a feature review and some launch statistics. Long shot call: if lucky we may also get mention of a few more Wallet card feature goodies with the iOS 13 golden master.
Apple Pay for NFC Tags This was previewed by Jennifer Bailey at her Transact keynote just before WWDC19. There has been no coverage since. NFC Tag Apple Pay works hand in glove with the Background NFC tag reading feature on iPhone XR/XS and later, and the Sign in with Apple feature of iOS 13. The Apple Pay segment makes the most sense for Apple to mention any other products or services that use the enhanced NFC Tag functionality of iOS 13.
The level of global NFC functionality integration across iPhone and Apple Watch is unique. There is nothing on the Android side that matches the seamless combination of Apple Pay Suica + iPhone + Apple Watch, a hardware combination also coming to Hong Kong transit with iOS 13 Apple Pay Octopus. An Apple Watch Series 5 that delivers background NFC tag reading ability integrated with Apple Pay along with Express Transit power reserve would be a very unique feature set indeed.
Where you can use Apple Pay for transit with Express Transit Mode ‘A List’ transit that supports both native transit cards (faster than EMV except for China) and EMV style bank cards (slower) for Express Transit.
Where you can use Apple Pay for transit without Express Transit mode ‘B List’ EMV style bank card transit that requires Face ID, Touch ID or passcode at the transit gate. One benefit of this mode over regular plastic bank cards is that all Apple Pay loaded cards (China again is the one exception, UnionPay all the way) are certified by Apple for the listed transit agencies. This means Apple Pay cards will always work, while plastic versions of the same card sometimes do not.
One of the early issues of using Apple Pay Suica was that the Suica card ID number would change every time the card was removed and re-added to Wallet, migrated to a new iPhone, or transferred from iPhone to Apple Watch. This was no problem for using Suica for transit and payment, but soft-linked services like JRE POINT and the JR Central Shinkansen EX App were a problem. Users had to manually update the Apple Pay Suica card ID number in those service accounts. If they did not, those services stopped working.
The good news is that Mobile Suica and Apple Pay fixed the issue in 2017. The bad news is that the issue is back again. JR East has done a lot of backend work on the Mobile Suica system to get the iOS 13 direct Suica card creation Wallet feature in place. I moved by main Apple Pay Suica card to test it on Apple Watch today and noticed that the Suica card ID had changed. I thought I might need to issue an all points alert, but close investigation revealed that JR East has really improved things on the Mobile Suica system.
The Suica card ID number changes, once, it seems. After that, moving Suica around doesn’t change anything. I suspect this is related to the changes in iOS 13 Wallet. Another interesting change is that the JRE POINT system automatically updates a changed Suica ID number from Mobile Suica. It just works. Hurray!
Softlinked Apple Pay Suica services like EX App (smartEX and Express Reservation) and Touch and Go Shinkansen are still a problem. Touch and Go Shinkansen users simply register their device again at a JR East station kiosk. Apple Pay Suica & Express Card EX App users need to open up Suica App, tap the Express Reservation option and login to EX via the shitty little mobile EX browser window. You should see a “Your Registered Device has changed” and a “Update” button. Tap that and all is done. You can confirm the updated Suica ID number in EX App.
I do not have a smartEX account and cannot confirm this, but I suspect users need to update any changed Suica ID number manually in the EX/smartEX Apps. In the future I hope that JR Central does a better job of dynamically connecting their EX system with Mobile Suica.
The Mizuho Suica Apple Pay card released just a year ago was an odd product. It was a Mizuho branded virtual Suica card linked to a Mizuho Bank account created in the iOS Mizuho Wallet App, a card that lived exclusively in Apple Pay Wallet without a plastic counterpart. Android users did not get Mizuho Suica, they got the JCB Smart Debit card instead and that remained an Android exclusive…until today.
The Mizuho JCB Smart Debit card joined Mizuho Suica in Apple Pay Wallet today without any fanfare or press release. The JCB Smart, as in smartphone only, Debit card works on the QUICPay+ payment network. Just like Mizuho Suica, users create the JCB Smart Debit card in Mizuho Wallet which adds it to Apple Pay Wallet. Apple Pay compatible Japanese issue plastic debit cards are still missing, but the virtual Mizuho JCB Smart Debit card is an indication that they should be arriving soon. Hopefully it also means that other major Japanese payment cards missing from Apple Pay, such as WAON, nanaco, Rakuten Edy, will join soon Apple Pay with the upcoming iOS 13 release.
Japanese Twitter users are scratching their heads about the stealth update, and Android users are apparently not getting Mizuho Suica in the bargain. Mizuho and is holding a press conference shortly, hopefully it will clear up the questions. I’ll update any details that come out of it to this post.
UPDATE And the details…
JCB Smart Debit is FeliCa/EMV dual mode for use with FeliCa QUICPay in Japan and EMV JCB Contactless/JCB Speedy internationally. Readers report that JCB Contactless also works where the Apple Pay Discover is accepted for payment.
With less than a year to go until the Tokyo Olympics, Tokyo Cashless 2020 is a periodic look at all things cashless as Japan gears up for the big event. If there is a topic that you’d like covered tweet me @Kanjo
Make the app multilingual, or at least support English in addition to Japanese
Cooperate with the other major transit card companies to support all compatible Japanese transit IC cards for recharging, not just Suica
Support international issue credit/debit card registration in the app so that anybody from anywhere can recharge plastic transit IC cards with their bank card
Support In-App Apple Pay for recharging
Support the app on Non-Osaifu Keitai Android phones that can read/write NFC-F, there are lots of them out there coming to Tokyo in 2020, support Google Pay for In-App recharging too
There is an ocean of plastic Japanese transit IC cards out there. There are lots of Android users, and even iPhone users, who cannot use Apple Pay Suica or Google Pay Suica. A handy Suica recharge app that lets inbound travelers recharge plastic transit cards on the go with just a smartphone is screaming to be born, it would be an essential tool in alleviating station recharge kiosk lines during the Tokyo Olympics. JR East, please make it happen.