Apple to launch iPhone for Japan with FeliCa tap-to-pay capability

“Apple Inc. is planning a new iPhone feature for Japan that will enable users to pay for mass-transit rides with their smartphones instead of physical payment cards,” Mark Gurman and Gareth Allan report for Bloomberg. “A future iPhone will include technology called FeliCa, a mobile tap-to-pay standard in Japan developed by Sony Corp., according to people familiar with the matter. The FeliCa chip will let customers in Japan store their public bus and train passes on their iPhones. Users would then be able to tap their phones against the entrance scanners instead of using physical cards.”

“The Near Field Communication technology powering Apple’s mobile-payments service, Apple Pay, is prevalent in North America, Europe and Australia, but the FeliCa standard dominates Japan with a penetration of 1.9 million payment terminals, according to the Bank of Japan,” Gurman and Allan report. “Apple intends to work with multiple transit card providers, one person said. The major players there include the Suica and Pasmo networks. Theoretically, virtual representations of the transit passes would be stored in the iPhone’s Wallet application, said the person, who asked not be identified because the planning is private.”

“Apple has planned to launch these new features with the next iPhone models, which the company is set to unveil in September, according to people familiar with the matter,” Gurman and Allan report. “In addition to supporting the transit-pass network, the FeliCa chip can also store e-money, an electric form of currency now widely accepted at vending machines, convenience stores and cafes in Japan. Apple is in discussions with at least one major financial institution to support these e-money transactions, according to one of the people.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Commuters in Japan, rejoice!


  1. It’s not just commuters, they use FeliCa for EVERYTHING and it’s an incredibly well-used system. It’s essentially used like a credit card, which is why Apple wants to tap into it… to tie it in with Apple Pay.

    They’ve pretty much standardized it across the country.

    1. Considering the age of the FeliCa system, I’m a bit worried that it’s using the older, dump EVERYTHING type of NFC technology whereby crooks can steal your identity and account with one scan of your card while merely passing by you. It’s my ‘grannies with card scanners’ scenario. The source article only goes into the technology superficially. Knowing Apple, they won’t allow that to happen. Research opportunity.

      My other concern is Apple having to accommodate lots of other-IP chips into the iPhone. I suspect Apple’s goal is to adopt their own NFC chip to work with a variety of other systems besides Pay. The chip IDs the third party system via shared metadata, then interacts with installed software on the iPhone that allows that system to work. The goal is to have universal hardware around the world with only added software required. We’ll see.

  2. but at this point we should assume that apple’s implementation of using the FeliCa chip will still allow randomized 1 time only anonomous money transfer with no personal or account details whatsoever being given, which is what apple pay is all about.

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