Apple Wallet Ponta contactless rewards card at LAWSON

Ponta Apple Pay launches at LAWSON
Ponta Apple Pay launches at LAWSON with 4X points for Apple Pay Purchases

The Ponta rewards card for Apple Wallet launched at LAWSON Japan right on schedule and without a hitch.  iOS 12/watch OS 5 users with any Apple Pay capable device: iPhone 6 and later, Apple Watch Series 1 and later can add the Ponta rewards card operated by the Recruit Group to Apple Wallet and automatically earn Ponta points with Apple Pay purchases at LAWSON without having to use an app or show a bar code. Apple Pay purchases earn 4X Ponta points during the launch campaign running through March 6, 2019. You can also make purchases with Apple Wallet Ponta points.

NFC Apple Wallet passes are a new feature of iOS 12/watchOS 5. Apple is encouraging developers to use NFC instead of QR or bar codes for Apple Wallet passes, and has been showcasing contactless NFC passes at recent Apple Events. Ponta Apple Wallet hopefully marks the beginning of other NFC enabled reward cards such as JRE POINT joining Apple Wallet.

Create a digital Ponta card with iOS Ponta Card App then add it to Apple Wallet as shown here and in the above screenshots. Say “Apple Pay” to the LAWSON cashier and use Face ID/Touch ID with the card you want to use. Ponta automatic points don’t register with Suica Express Cards, iD or QUICPay, be sure to say “Apple Pay”. The reader does a double read, first for Ponta then for Apple Pay, so hold iPhone to the reader until it gives you a transaction complete sound, the linked Tweet video below gives you the idea. It’s slower than a regular FeliCa transaction because of the double read and the poky Ponta NCF-A protocol.

With a successful Apple Pay transaction the Ponta logo flashes briefly confirming purchase reward points, shown in the GIF Tweet, followed by a Ponta Wallet point summary notification. If you pay close attention to the GIF you’ll notice that LAWSON accepts NFC Pay in addition to FeliCa, iOS NFC switching in action again as Apple Wallet Ponta uses NFC-A. Whatever the NFC flavor is Apple Pay takes care of it, just as it should be.

Update: the LAWSON POS is built around Panasonic JT-R600CR readers which are Apple Pay savvy and Apple Wallet Ponta cards only work correctly when you tell the LAWSON cashier to use “Apple Pay”. Apple Wallet Ponta is Apple’s implementation of the VAS protocal for contactless NFC passes, reward cards, etc. and is NFC A. The Panasonic reader reads Ponta then selects the correct FeliCa payment method (Suica, iD, QUICPay). Users are complaining that LAWSON did not train store staff well but are getting up to speed quickly.

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Lawson launches first Apple Pay NFC contactless rewards card in Japan

Payment acceptance marks at Lawsons 2
The Lawson POS screen will add Ponta NFC contactless to their ever-growing collection of acceptance marks

Lawson Japan announced NFC contactless support for the popular Ponta rewards card operated by the Recruit Group starting nationwide on November 7. The Lawson press release explains that iOS 12/watch OS 5 users with FeliCa capable Apple devices: iPhone 7 (JP)/iPhone 8/iPhone X and later, Apple Watch 2 (JP)/Apple Watch 3 and later can add a Ponta card to Wallet and use Ponta points for NFC contactless purchases.

Purchases made with Apple Pay Suica or Apple Pay credit cards automatically earn Ponta points without having to open the Ponta App or show a bar code. This is exactly what Apple was selling to developers in the WWDC18 Apple Pay session: no more messy QR or bar codes for Wallet cards and passes. Apple has also been using contactless NFC passes at recent Apple Events.

Neither Ponta Web or Ponta App can add Wallet passes right now so this means updates are due before the November 7 launch. Ponta rewards are issued and used by a large number of stores, hopefully the Lawson announcement is the start of a larger rollout and a mention on the Apple Pay Japan site. The less rummaging around to dig out a rewards card, all the better. It means I might actually use it more.

Wallet NFC Passes and More Coming Later Today?

iOS 12 Golden Master

Apple is taking a very long time to refresh the Apple Pay Japan page with new iPhone related Apple Pay information. It may be a long shot but we could see some minor NFC related announcements later this morning after Japanese companies open for business: NFC Passes, NFC Reward Cards, etc.

The iOS 12 golden master lists the new Contactless Student ID Card feature in Japanese but Student ID Cards are only for America at this point.

UPDATE
Apple has still not updated any of the Apple Pay or related support page information yet and may be until the iOS 12 launch before we see anything.

UPDATE 2
There is much much more: Welcome the new era of A12 Bionic NFC and iOS 12

NFC Goods on Tap for September 12 Apple Event

Apple is using the September 12 event to show off the new NFC Wallet Pass feature of iOS 12 and watchOS 5 to invited journalists and guests running the iOS 12 beta. The NFC feature was unveiled at WWDC and will be used for Student ID Cards in Wallet. Here’s an overview of NFC related news expected for September 12.

NFC Passes
Apple clearly wants to promote NFC Passes in Wallet over clunky QR Codes. Apple also wants to promote NFC Passes on Apple Watch over iPhone: NFC Passes are gorgeously displayed exclusively on the watchOS 5 page so expect them during the Apple Watch segment. Assa Abloy and Blackboard are working with Apple to make those happen. You might remember Assa Abloy from The Information rumor piece about door locks and ID Passes coming to Wallet.

Temple University’s OWLCard and John Hopkins J-Card offer some clues how they will work in Wallet:

  1. Contactless student ID cards are Stored Value (SV)
  2. Because they are SV cards, they can be recharged

Since they will reside in Apple Pay Wallet this means NFC Student ID Cards can be ‘recharged’ with Apple Pay credit cards instead of running to the nearest ‘refill/recharge’ station. Anytime, Anywhere Recharge.

Sound familiar? My goodness it’s just like Apple Pay Suica that you can recharge on the go and use for Suica coin lockers. The only real difference is that Apple Pay Student ID Cards cannot be used for transit. At least not yet.

An interesting aspect of implementing NFC Passes in Wallet is the PassKit NFC Certificate requirement issued by Apple to the developer and strictly controlled for security purposes. If Apple wants to open up NFC access to more developers, wider NFC Certificate distribution should be the ticket for developers to gain NFC access that was not possible up to now. The Apple Pay Developer page seems to back this up: “discover how to create contactless passes for rewards cards, gift cards, tickets, and more.”

NFC Reward Cards, Gift Cards, Tickets and more?
It would be in line with expectations if Apple announces NFC reward cards and gift cards alongside NFC Passes and Student IDs. It would be beyond expectations, but not far-fetched, if Apple also announces Apple Pay Transit for MIFARE based Taiwan transit cards, FeliCa based Octopus Hong Kong transit cards or perhaps something else…like Apple Pay PASMO. We won’t know until the event as Apple certainly cut code references out of the iOS 12 beta mix to keep code spelunkers at bay.

More Global FeliCa iPhone
The new iPhone models and Apple Watch Series 4 will certainly have Global FeliCa, hopefully free of the NFC hardware issues that plagued iPhone X production. The more important question for the Japanese market however is not the top-tier models but the iPhone 7 replacement aka iPhone SE 2 as tweeted by Guilherme Rambo.

SE 2 should have Global FeliCa as well and will make a great entry-level Apple Pay Suica device, not only for Japanese students on a budget but older Japanese who don’t need or want the latest bells and whistles. An entry level Global FeliCa iPhone has been missing from the JP lineup and will certainly help Apple hold onto Japanese market share. It will certainly help too if Apple throws in important Apple Pay Transit additions such as Apple Pay PASMO.

Long term I think Apple Watch will be next revolution thing for transit but only when transit cards and credit cards can be loaded directly to Apple Watch without an iPhone. When that happens, and it eventually will, watch out.

Enjoy the show.

UPDATE
Welcome to the new era of A12 Bionic NFC and iOS 12

Guilherme Rambo SE2 Tweet

 

NFC Wallet Passes for September 12 Apple Event

Apple is using it’s just announced September 12 event to show off the new NFC Wallet Pass feature of iOS 12 and watchOS 5 to invited journalists and guests running the iOS 12 beta. The new feature was unveiled at WWDC and will be used for the Student ID Passes that Assa Abloy and Blackboard are developing with Apple.

Apple clearly wants to promote NFC Passes in Wallet over clunky QR Codes and showed NFC Passes on Apple Watch in action with a Wembley Stadium NFC ticket gate in the WWDC18 Apple Pay session video. In the same session Apple software engineers explained how to strip out QR Codes in Wallet Passes and easily replace them with NFC.

It’s also clear that Apple wants to promote NFC Passes on Apple Watch over iPhone, the new Wallet feature will be shown off in the Apple Watch segment of the upcoming event.

UPDATE
Japanese IT journalist Junya Suzuki is saying there could be more NFC goodies and partners on tap for the September 12 event and the iOS 12 GM. Back at WWDC18 I wrote:

NFC Certificates should be the ticket for developers to gain NFC access that was not possible up to now… It will be fascinating to see what developers do with wider NFC Certificate distribution and what NFC passes/reward cards, and hopefully much more, that come out of it with iOS 12 and watchOS 5.

It would be in line with expectations if Apple announced some extra NFC Wallet goodies, such as NFC reward cards in addition to NFC Passes and Student IDs, during the keynote. It would be beyond expectations, but not far fetched, if Apple also announced Apple Pay Transit for MIFARE based Taiwan transit cards, FeliCa based Octopus Hong Kong transit cards or perhaps something else…like Apple Pay PASMO. We won’t know until the event as Apple has certainly cut code references out of the iOS 12 beta mix to keep the 9to5 Mac code spelunker elves at bay.

Enjoy the show.