The first thing to do if you have lost your iPhone is put the device in Lost Mode from another device using the same Apple ID or iCloud.com. Lost Mode disables Apple Pay on the device. If you find your iPhone, great, but how can you recover your Suica card when your old iPhone is either lost or wiped and you want to add Suica to a new iPhone?
No matter what the situation, Apple Pay iCloud keeps your transit card (Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, Octopus, Clipper, SmarTrip, TAP, HOP, China T-Union) or e-Money card (WAON and nanaco) stored value information safe on iCloud until you are ready to add the card again. The steps below use Suica but apply to all Apple Pay stored value cards.
Remove cards from the device If iPhone is lost or wiped, remove the cards. If you have another device with the same Apple ID, go to settings > tap Apple ID > select device if is it showing, tap Remove Items in the Wallet & Apple Pay section. If you do not have another device go to Apple ID, and sign in with the same Apple ID used for the Apple Pay device, select Devices > select the lost or stolen iPhone > select Remove Items in the Wallet & Apple section.
Restore Suica Restoring Suica, PASMO, and ICOCA is exactly the same as transferring Suica to a new iPhone. Once you successfully delete the card on the lost iPhone, or if you have wiped iPhone and want to restore the card to a new iPhone, simply re-add the card: tap Add Card “+” > tap Previous Cards, select the card you want to add and tap Continue.
Card Already Exists in Wallet error If for some reason you are having difficulty re-adding Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, WAON, nanaco to iPhone and see and a Wallet error message, “this card already exists in Wallet,” in the last step of the adding process: sign out of iCloud, restart the device and sign back into iCloud with the same Apple ID. This will clear any problems.
Card Unavailable error If you see ‘Card Unavailable’ it means the card is fine but there are some issues that the Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, WAON, nanaco systems need to clear during the offline nightly maintenance window. Simply wait for the end of the next maintenance window: 2am~4am Japan Standard Time, or 24 hours, then re-add the card.
With no explanation or reason, one little VISA payment system configuration change by the merchant acquirer eliminated the default go-to transit and payment card any visitor to Japan with iPhone and a VISA Wallet card Apple could add and use nationwide. Plastic Suica cards were the only option for inbound visitors with iPhone who only have VISA cards, and now the plastic card option is severely limited.
That very same month, VISA’s Nick Mackie, Vice President, Visa Acceptance Solutions, Head of Urban Mobility & Government gave an exclusive interview to Nikkei Business magazine in an article that announced VISA Touch sponsored open loop transit initiatives in Japan were going mainstream. Mackie explained that VISA Touch would ‘co-exist’ with Suica on Japanese transit gates, of course he didn’t mention that VISA in Japan has had a very rocky relationship with Apple Pay.
Wait a minute, what about Suica on store readers? Suica is a payment network, not a transit card. People forget that. Inbound visitors and Japanese open loop media advocates make the mistake of comparing Suica to London’s OYSTER, or Sydney’s OPAL but neither of those systems are payment networks that work outside of transit gate. The only relevant comparison is Hong Kong Octopus which, like Suica, is also a payment network, one that is central to the MRT business model, as Suica is to JR East.
Are we talking open here or global payment cartel economic neocolonialism? People have this strange idea that EMV card companies are an open standard because everybody uses them. They are not. They are incumbent payment ecosystems with static global marketshare, in other words payment cartels, whose main revenue stream are interchange processing fees from processing different kinds of payments while selling value added services, i.e. your analyzed transaction data to customers. They are lucrative businesses because of their tremendous scale. EMV open loop transit is simply another effort to increase the volume of processing fees by capturing fare gate transactions, and selling the transit use transaction data analysis as a value added service to their business customers.
And because they are ecosystems there are many moving parts: EMV licensing fees, EMV compliance device certification fees, transaction processing networks. This means it is very difficult for new services to emerge and compete with a giant multi-arm consortium or recreate its vertical integration. They have to play with the EMV payment cartel if they are going to play at all.
In Japan mobile apps have provided an opening to link bank accounts with QR Code payment systems. QR Code App are popular for many reasons, the main one being that they offer ways to circumnavigate the EMV payment cartel. a mobile debit card scheme without the card or the EMV payment network as QR Codes circumnavigate the hammer lock of pre-installed EMV on smartphone secure embedded elements (eSE).
As I have written about many times, global NFC and Suica support on Android has been stymied by the lack of pre-installed Mobile FeliCa that works everywhere. Mobile FeliCa is the only real payment NFC protocol that can compete with EMV on payments. Calypso could but is transit only. The pre-install problem is why Navigo on Android had no choice but to develop the lower performance Calypso HCE, it was the only way for Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) to work around the lack of getting Android smartphone manufacturers to post-install Calypso eSE applets even thought the hardware fully supports Calypso NFC-B.
This is why the EU pressure to ‘open’ the iPhone NFC chip is so false to me. The current plan would only serve to increase the EMV payment cartel grip on mobile payments. If the EU really wanted to foster payment competition they would force manufacturers to pre-install Mobile FeliCa, and Calypso along with EMV and MIFARE. Nobody gets this except for a select few. I’d argue that Apple Pay actually levels the playing field by pre-installing and integrating all the necessary pieces, giving non-bank payment providers equal opportunity to bring non-EMV solutions to the mobile platform. Established players don’t like that. Western countries will continue to abide with the EMV payment cartel instead of enhancing payment competition, witness the proposed Credit Card Competition Act of 2022~2023 going nowhere in the American Congress.
The ramen shop arcade business model Japan is lucky to already have alternative home grown payment networks even as the EMV cartel tightens its grip here. Unlike the western monopolistic ‘winner take all’, ‘one size fits all’ business culture, the nature of traditional Japanese business culture is akin to a ramen shop arcade. One successful ramen shop is okay but many together in the same area are better because more choice brings in more customers. More customers is more business that raises all boats. That’s why Japanese customers like having payment options, and are adept at juggling them for the points they want. Westerns say they like having options, but when they visit Japan complain they complain about having too many options.
VISA and their main Japanese partner SMBC group are investing heavily to market contactless payments under the banner of ‘Visa Touch’ along with the SMBC stera payment system to shift payments to EMV contactless and away from FeliCa based payment players such as iD (NTT Docomo) and QUICPay (JCB). Open loop stera transit is part of this investment.
What IT media in Japan and abroad never write about is the FeliCa ecosystem and how much of the technology licensing, payment processing, and other fees stay in Japan versus how much leaves Japan for Europe and America if that basic ecosystem is completely replaced with EMV. In other words what the long term price of removing the native payment system and replacing it with payment system neocolonialism? If you carefully examine what China has done, they have carefully cloned the basic EMV spec for transit, China T-Union PBOC 2.0/3.0, which neatly circumvents EMV licensing while maintaining compatibility, similar to what GhostScript did back in the PostScript era: PostScript compatibility without expensive Adobe licensing.
Stay in your lane: open loop reality in Japan I see the VISA block of Mobile Suica, PASMO, and ICOCA as part of that VISA/SMBC effort. What better way to put pressure on domestic transit operators to add open loop by denying inbound visitors the ability to add and use Suica, PASMO, and ICOCA in Apple Pay Wallet? In any other age this kind of market abuse would come under anti-monopolistic regulatory scrutiny but here we are living in an age where regulators focus on Apple for the wrong reasons.
JR East and JR West will likely never add open loop as doing so dilutes their core business, Suica and ICOCA are central to their business strategy of extending those payments platforms into service platforms. The reality is that despite all the VISA and SMBC efforts, VISA Touch open loop transit will be just another ramen shop in the arcade, a thin client bolted on to the existing transit IC system, an EMV and QR Code reader bolted onto the current transit IC gate.
It will be at some stations and some transit operators, but it will not be everywhere. It can’t do reserve seating Shinkansen, Express Train fares, Green Seat Tickets, etc., those can only be accomplished with closed loop. The reality of open loop will be an extension of what we have now, separate gates and lanes for slower more error prone open loop, while the rest use transit IC gates because when you ride JR East, JR West and JR Central, the only choice will be closed loop Transit IC, and (eventually) QR.
And there will be no Express Mode for open loop. If there is one lesson we have learned from all open loop installations in the world to date it is this: smartphones do not support multiple Express Transit modes on the same system. As Suica, PASMO and ICOCA already have Express Mode, open loop with smartphones will always be just like the store reader payment authentication process.
The EMV payment cartel may want to be the only ramen shop in the arcade but I hope the lively variety of payment choices that flourish in Japan continue to flourish and provide new opportunities. I don’t have anything against EMV open loop, just as long as the EMV consortium partners play fare fair with all domestic transit payment players. May all boats rise together.
As outlined at totra launch time, the Suica 2 in 1 card uses the next generation FeliCa SD2 chip and FeliCa OS to combine Suica functions with region tailored transit service extras in one card. All of the Suica 2 in 1 cards offer the basic minimum of bus commuter passes and automatic transit points, these multiple region transit specific points automatically earned and used for discount fares. Suica 2 in 1 were the first Suica cards with disability fares, some Suica 2 in 1 region cards also offer senior fare cards.
Transfer fare discounts: discounts for bus~LRT transfers that cap wider region to city center transit fare at ¥500
Fare capping: fares capped at ¥400 for city area transit
Transit points: automatic transit points earned and used when riding region transit (bus and LRT).
Senior transit subsidy: annual ¥10,000 senior (70+) fare subsidy awarded as ‘Welfare Transit Points’.
The last one is an interesting one and illustrates the differently tailored region services, AKICA for example offers senior fare cards while Utsunomiya pays an annual senior transit subsidy. There are a few nice surprises on the LRT FAQ page such as paying group fare with a single Transit IC card and more totra extras such as day passes are in the works. As totra is also a Suica card it comes with all the JR East benefits as well: JRE POINT, Eki-Net Shinkansen eTickets, Suica Day Passes, etc.
There will be a lot more new Suica services coming as Suica 2.0 is rolled out in addition to My Number card region linked services. New developments leveraging individually tailored transit and region based services will be coming over the next 4 years. This kind of highly customized closed loop account based ticketing is extremely difficult to achieve with open loop.
I attended the annual August 15 Nichiren Shu sponsored memorial ceremony honoring all victims of the Pacific War and prayer for world peace at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery for 15 years. The first few years I also joined the Nichiren Shu related world peace march to Ikegami Honmonji temple that took place after the ceremony. We’d drum and chant Odaimoku through the scorchingly hot streets past the Diet, Tokyo Tower, Akasaka, Gotanda with the Japanese police escorting and protecting us from traffic, young people and foreigners staring at our small noisy group like we were mad. Only the older folks in quieter areas would put their hands together and bow respectfully in gratitude to our efforts, an old and quickly fading cultural memory.
But over the years my doubts about the whole end of the war business: the memorial ceremonies, the activists, the bad history dramas on TV, all of it no matter what color of the political spectrum, began to grow. The actual people who lived through that horrific time always have my sympathy and respect, but as those people became fewer and fewer, too old to even attend ceremonies, it became more and more younger people without any connection to the war using it for what ever political reason, many of them not ever Japanese. They became the only ones lining the sidewalks from Kudanshita metro station to Yasukuni Shrine while the ever dwindling number of faux right wing sound trucks whizzed by. Dwindling because whoever bought the gas, the food, paid the salaries and the after event parties wasn’t paying as much as they used to. Those sound truck guys are only hired hands. Actually everybody who engages in any kind of end of the war activism are hired pretend volunteers. The only ones doing it for free were family members actually paying respects, and they always keep their heads down going about their own business.
I always walked on the quiet Chidorigafuchi side of the street avoiding the brouhaha. When COVID hit most normal people stopped coming. Nichiren Shu priests still went through the motions, and getting paid for their efforts, but the real audience and reason had moved on. They won’t be back, like of a lot of other post war cultural institutions. My last tour of duty, if you can even call it that as it was more out of curiosity, was August 15, 2022. As always I went early to avoid the heat and noise. The cherry tree lined sidewalk going toward the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery was empty and quiet. The only people were a few little old rich ladies out walking their dogs, talking about weather and mundane things. The war dead are dead and buried. There are some people making money off of it in various capacities. It had nothing to do with the ladies walking their dogs. At that moment, I decided it had nothing to do with me.
Now that plastic Suica cards are mostly unavailable unless you tearfully plead with a kind hearted JR East station staffer that you lost it and need a replacement Suica, inbound tourists are stuck with lining up at Narita or Haneda station kiosks for the not so welcome Welcome Suica. Unless of course you have iPhone. In that case any inbound visitor can add Suica and use in Wallet without any app, as long as they don’t try it with a VISA credit card.
JR East has a multilingual Train Reservation site for visitors, they even have a multilingual Suica page, but there is no mention of Mobile Suica. There is a multilingual Mobile Suica support FAQ but it is buried away and has not been updated since 2018. The only Mobile Suica English language effort to date was the temporary and long dead SuicaEng app that was a one trick pony for adding a single Suica card to Apple Pay Wallet. When Wallet added native add card Suica support in iOS 13 JR East killed the app and focused on rolling out the multilingual Train Reservation site which they did in June 2021.
But now more than ever, it’s time for JR East to get serious about English language Mobile Suica support and marketing campaign. The problem facing JR East though is where to invest precious resources that grow the Mobile Suica user base while keeping costs down. Spending multilingual money on us ungrateful, ever complaining ‘I want it now’ gaijins isn’t always cost effective ROI. Take the current version of Suica App for instance, localizing now it is a waste because Suica App will be completely replaced with a new Suica 2.0 compliant app and feature set in the near future.
There is also the problem of Mobile Suica Stored Fare (SF) balance refunds. Mobile Suica refunds can only be done via the app and sent to a Japanese bank account for a ¥220 processing fee. This is because Suica is JPY currency and originally created for domestic use only. Smartphones didn’t exist when Mobile Suica launched on Docomo in 2006, international visitor use was not possible back then.
Let’s keep things simple. Here are some cheap, easy things JR East can do to promote Mobile Suica for inbound use:
An English Mobile Suica marketing campaign that educates iPhone users how easy it is to add and use Suica without any apps.
An updated and easily accessible multilingual FAQ/Support page.
A slightly tweaked Suica App that allows users to delete a zero balance Suica card from Apple Pay without the hassle of registering a Mobile Suica account.
Last but not least, do whatever you can to convince the VISA payment network in Japan to remove their credit card block of Mobile Suica (and PASMO, and ICOCA). Not an easy task with all the moving VISA network pieces to be sure.
A little bit here, a little bit there can pay big dividends in the short term without reinventing anything for inbound visitors. Just make what’s already there and already great, easily accessible.