JR East has not issued an English version of Suica App yet but at least their Apple Pay Suica support web site now has an English language option in addition to simple and traditional Chinese and Korean. It doesn’t have all of the information of the Japanese site but it covers basic trouble shooting topics that should resolve most cases. There is also a live chat option from the JR East Mobile Suica mascot ‘MOCA-chan’ but is only available in Japanese.
iOS 12.2 beta 4 continues to tweak the Apple Pay Suica UI. Shortcuts from Suica notifications finally work and the main Suica screen now sports a ‘Charge’ (Add Money) button. The UI changes in 12.2 still feel lumpy and inconsistent however: in other system preferences blue indicates an operation or another screen, ever since iOS 12.2 beta 1 Wallet operations are indicated by black with a few blue text leftovers:
UPDATE A reader asked for some clarification of the updated Apple Pay Suica UI in beta 4. The information display is slightly different for regular and commuter Suica in the details screen. The top row of icons includes a commuter pass renewal shortcut with route details and balance information displayed further down. I think the iOS 12.2 Suica UI will continue to be a moving target, witness the sloppy icon text pushing up the Safari icon and off line with other icons in the commuter Suica screen. Clearly Apple is not sweating the details.
It’s nice that NXP and FeliCa Networks (all things FeliCa mobile owned by Sony, Docomo and JR East) have collaborated on putting EMV, FeliCa and MIFARE on one chip. The NXP PN81 does it all and is certified for FeliCa too and not just NFC A-B-F:
FeliCa Networks and NXP share the vision to provide global travelers and mobile phone owners in Japan an integrated contactless experience for payment, ticketing, and other popular use cases towards 2020 and beyond,” said Tomoharu Hikita, president and CEO of FeliCa Networks.
It sounds like global FeliCa for any smart device, something which Apple has been selling worldwide since 2017. Let’s hope Android manufacturers can start offering it too with the NXP PN81.
The iOS 12.2 beta 3 developer release has some UI tweaks for Apple Pay Suica. It is a little less rough than previous beta versions but still has a curiously un-Apple and inelegant UI design feel. From what I have seen so far, iOS 12.2 is a step backwards from the iOS 12.1 design. Other observations: Suica notification shortcuts are still useless and the new notification font design is simply hideous. As usual I do not recommend using beta software, stick with the official releases.
If you were hoping for a streamlined cashless payment roadmap for Japan, forget it. Things are just going to get more complex as various reward point ecosystems (Rakuten point, d-Point, Ponta point, etc.) slug it out for dominance across smartphone apps (QR Codes) and digital wallet platforms (NFC). Mercari joined the fray with MerPay on Apple Pay, a virtual prepaid Mastercard provided via the Sumitomo Mitsui bank group and hosted on the iD contactless payment network.
Mercari was founded by a former Rakuten employee and follows their basic business model of hosting a virtual marketplace for buyers and sellers. The idea behind MerPay is that sellers can use money earned from sales or points via the virtual prepaid card for store purchases, Suica recharge, etc. Users can also recharge MerPay from a linked bank account.
Hachimaki san of Kanmu Ltd. has dug into MerPay details with a helpful flowchart.