Apple Pay has gone live in Japan, albeit with some hiccups. While the platform’s pioneering use of Touch ID fingerprint scanning to confirm transactions has helped to popularize the ease of use of mPayments for increasing numbers of customers around the world, compatibility issues with IT infrastructure from partner JR East has caused some difficulty in Japan.
Apple’s ambitious plan for Japan was to integrate Apple Pay into the Suica card, which is used by commuters to access transit services provided by JR East. As 9to5Mac reports, Suica is based on a contactless payment system called FeLiCa, and in order to ensure compatibility with it, Apple had to use customized NFC chips in its new devices for Japan, so only Japanese models of the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 can be used with Suica.
Unfortunately, there have been some problems with today’s launch of the system. AppleInsider reports that some users have been unable to recharge their Suica cards on Apple Pay, while others have had trouble buying tickets. 9to5Mac’s account offers a more sanguine picture, reporting that the issues have revolved around too many commuters trying to upload their transit cards to Apple Pay, with the mPayment service being a victim of its own success.
Apple also had some technical difficulties when it paired its mPayment platform with the UK’s Transport for London transit system last year, but it was ultimately able to smooth those out. The situation in Japan could be a bit more complicated, given the custom hardware in play; but it’s too early for any kind of verdict on the service. At the very least, commuters are trying to use it.
October 25, 2016 – by Alex Perala