See, I told you that when VISA Japan finally signed on with Apple Pay it was just the latest shot in the digital banking wars. Today we have another one: JR East announced that Lawson Bank will add Mobile Suica recharge support to their app in spring 2022. In addition to Lawson Bank, other bank apps will also offer Mobile Suica recharge using the Lawson Bank platform for direct recharge from a bank account…to the Mobile Suica platform. The current list is Kiraboshi Bank, Hachijuni Bank, Tochigi Bank, Kochi Bank, Tomato Bank, Kirayaka Bank, Kagawa Bank. More bank apps will be added before the service starts.
So why are these regional banks adding Mobile Suica recharge support to their apps? On one level it shows JR East growing the Mobile Suica platform footprint as one more mobile ‘something pay’ that can be used everywhere. On a deeper level I think it relates to the Abe government blockchain strategy for regional banking as well as JR East blockchain plans. There’s a lot more going on the backend than just Mobile Suica recharge (which is important because it is mobile only), and that will be interesting.