Alongside the introduction of iOS 10.1 and watchOS 3.1, Apple has switched on support for Apple Pay in Japan. This makes the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 compatible with the FeliCa contactless payment system used by almost two million payment terminals in the country.
Supporting Apple Pay in Japan was not a trivial undertaking for Apple. Although FeliCa is an NFC-based contactless payment system, it’s not compatible with the systems used in most other countries. Apple had to equip Japanese devices with a different NFC chip to support FeliCa – also used in Hong Kong and Singapore – which is bad news for the rest of us when travelling to the region …
To use FeliCa, you not only need either an iPhone 7 or an Apple Watch Series 2, but it also needs to be a Japanese model: devices sold in the U.S. and elsewhere are not compatible. Locals will be able to use Apple Pay at any terminal supporting Suica, QUICPay, or iD. Apple Insider says that Apple Pay will support Japanese cards from American Express, JCB, MasterCard, Aeon, Orico, Credit Saison, SoftBank, d Card, View Card, MUFG Card and more.
The move is good news for Apple: FeliCa is so well established in the region as a standard form of payment that Apple Pay take-up is likely to be rapid, with Apple’s tiny take from each transaction likely to add up to significant revenue. Last year, FeliCa transactions totalled $46B.
Tim Cook visited Japan recently, stating that he hoped Apple could be a catalyst for moving away from cash. Apple officially confirmed the service was coming to Japan as its iPhone 7 event last month.
Apple Pay went live in New Zealand earlier this month, with the rollout among U.S. banks continuing. New York commuters also saw Apple Pay support added to the MTA eTix app.