As promised back in 2020, JR West finally launched Mobile ICOCA for Osaifu Keitai Android devices on March 22, with Apple Pay support expected later this year . If the Apple Pay PASMO rollout is anything to go by, expect Apple Pay ICOCA about 6 months after the Android launch around October, it takes time to coordinate Cupertino as Apple likes to align these things with new iOS releases. Basic points:
- Android 10 devices: the Osaifu Keitai supported devices list is limited to modern Android 10 devices that support multiple transit cards (Suica + PASMO + ICOCA) with only one card set as the default ‘Express Transit’ card.
- WESTER account required: this new point system was put in place just for Mobile ICOCA and a registered account is required for Mobile ICOCA. Similar to JRE POINT, users earn points from transit use, recharge and purchases at participating stores. WESTER POINT to Mobile ICOCA recharge is built in and self contained, more streamlined than JRE POINT app to Suica app recharge. J-WEST credit cards earn the most WESTER POINT for recharge and commute plan purchase.
- Mobile ICOCA Osaifu Keitai Android app
- Mobile ICOCA digital issue only, no plastic card transfers
- Users can register 3-D Secure 2.0 credit cards for recharge in the Mobile ICOCA app but ‘some foreign issue cards’ are not supported (looking at you foreign issue VISA)
- No wearables (Garmin, Fitbit, etc.) yet, Apple Watch will be first hopefully followed by WearOS devices later
- No auto-charge support…a pain, stick with plastic if you want this feature.
- Mobile Commute Plans: most regular and university student commute plans are supported including JR West + Osaka Metro/Hankyu/Keihan/Nankai/Hanshin routes, but other commute plan types/routes are not. These include, FREX Shinkansen plans, HS/JHS student plans (launching on Mobile Suica and PASMO March 18), disability discount commute plans, bus and trolley routes, and routes that include the JR West Tsuruga~Ishikawa Hokuriku line that will transfer from JR West to third sector ownership in 2024. Stand alone ICOCA commuter passes for Hankyu, Keihan, Osaka Metro routes that do not include JR West lines are not supported.
Suica and PASMO together account for roughly 80% of all Japanese transit card issue, ICOCA added in makes that 90%. In other words, 90% of the issued transit card market has mobile service. It will be very interesting to see how the Mobile ICOCA migration works out. I’ll update this post with details as they become available.
Last updated 2021-03-22
Related post: Thoughts on Apple Pay ICOCA
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