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Apple is developing a version of the iPhone for Japan that includes one of Sony's FeliCa chips to enable contactless transit payments, reports Bloomberg.

FeliCa is a tap-to-pay format developed by Sony and built into cards that are used to access Japan's railway and bus system. FeliCa is faster than Apple Pay, allowing transactions to occur in a fraction of a second, which makes it suitable for use in a fast-paced transit environment. It's also able to store e-money that can be used at vending machines and cafes across the country.

Apple plans to work with several transit card providers to create virtual versions of FeliCa transit cards that can be stored in the Wallet app on the iPhone and used in place of a physical card.

sonyfelica.jpg
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. While the FeliCa chip is the standard technology underlying the service, there are several different providers of transit payment cards based on the type of transit and areas within Japan.
The addition of a FeliCa chip to the iPhone will help Apple make inroads into the mobile payment market in Japan, which is dominated by the standard. 1.9 million payment terminals in the country have already adopted FeliCa and FeliCa terminals saw 4.6 trillion yen ($46 billion) in transactions in 2015.

The FeliCa payment feature could be available as soon as next month, built into the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that Apple plans to unveil in early September. Bloomberg warns, though, that Apple could potentially delay the feature's launch until next year should discussions with Japanese payment networks fall through.

Article Link: Apple Working on Special Version of iPhone for Japan, Will Include FeliCa Tap-to-Pay Chip
 

tatsumi

macrumors member
Nov 12, 2015
74
91
If this is true, the next iPhone and Apple Watch will be an instant buy for me. Otherwise I might wait another year in hopes that one will get it.
I am currently using a special case I put in my PiTaPa card. I would love to use my iPhone for the trains and busses. Also this would open Apple Pay to many locations here, as I can pay via ICOCA at convenient stores.
 

RedOrchestra

Suspended
Aug 13, 2012
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Looks like they could develop the similar thing for Australian banks to have their own Pay systems, all banks for that matter - wonder why Japan's getting such special treatment?
 

jpn

Cancelled
Feb 9, 2003
1,854
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yes. yes. yes.
thank god.
in japan there are two mobile payment systems and both have 100% market saturation.
apple stood no chance of getting its general NFC terminals in place.
since this means that apple will use Felica system in Japan, this also means that no other company would be able to get into Japan without doing the same thing.
buy yr apple stock now.
because sales will explode once this happens.
 
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MechaSpanky

macrumors 6502
Sep 11, 2007
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Looks like they could develop the similar thing for Australian banks to have their own Pay systems, all banks for that matter - wonder why Japan's getting such special treatment?

I would guess market size. Japan has a large population with a considerable amount of disposable income.

Mecha
 
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Junior117

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2015
284
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Toronto, Canada
If this is true, why is it better to add them only to phones sold in Japan rather than adding them to all phones? Wouldn't that just make more sense?

I mean, I can already see some people going to Japan often and using this technology, only to go back and use something else. If they truly want to replace the wallet, then having all phones doing the same thing instead of having some phones do different things is pretty much the way to go (unless I'm missing something obvious).
 
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bbbggg

macrumors newbie
Aug 18, 2016
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My guess (based on using PASMO in Japan) is that the Felica chip barely contains any data other than an account number that gets passed to the terminal. Then the terminal handles the backend, making sure there's enough money in the account, deducting the fares, etc. Unlike NFC where there is more back and forth communication with the phone that takes too long for a transit touch.

I wish we could get something like this in the U.S. -- Carrying around RFID transit cards (if you travel a lot), or remembering to bring them with you, is such a hassle. And the way they design the cards with the antenna around the border (inside the plastic) means you can't even cut them down to save space.

Of course, transit in the U.S. is behind almost every other country in the developed world, so the answer is probably... this will never happen here.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
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The addition of a FeliCa chip to the iPhone will help Apple make inroads into the mobile payment market in Japan, which is dominated by the standard. 1.9 million payment terminals in the country have already adopted FeliCa and FeliCa terminals saw 4.6 trillion yen ($46 billion) in transactions in 2015.
That would be quite the deal for both Japanese consumers and Apple together.. Convenience for the consumer and more sales for Apple.
 

Superhai

macrumors 6502a
Apr 21, 2010
689
493
FeliCa is also used on the octopus card so it should be possible to use this for fast payments in HK.
 

DragonJade

macrumors 6502
May 2, 2009
324
8
yes. yes. yes.
thank god.
in japan there are two mobile payment systems and both have 100% market saturation.
apple stood no chance of getting its general NFC terminals in place.
since this means that apple will use Felica system in Japan, this also means that no other company would be able to get into Japan without doing the same thing.
buy yr apple stock now.
because sales will explode once this happens.

That's incorrect. There are a lot more than two mobile payment systems in Japan. Excluding ones like ID, WAON, and Edy which are used to make payments in stores, for transportation there are: RapiCa, TOICA, ICOCA, Nagasaki Smart Card, passca, and PASPY, to name but a few.
[doublepost=1472175347][/doublepost]Many phones in Japan have had the FeliCa chip in them for around 12 years. It's about time Apple caught on.
 

tmiw

macrumors 68020
Jun 26, 2007
2,275
520
San Diego, CA
If this is true, why is it better to add them only to phones sold in Japan rather than adding them to all phones? Wouldn't that just make more sense?

China initially had a special version of the iPhone because their phone networks were a bit different than the normal CDMA and GSM standards, IIRC. Eventually that functionality was brought into the standard phones and the special SKU was discontinued.

It wouldn't surprise me if the latter happened around the iPhone 7s or 8 timeframe for Japan's NFC standard as well assuming that the special Japanese SKU happened for iPhone 7.
 
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lonanofung

macrumors newbie
Aug 25, 2016
1
0
I think it will make more sense if they use it in every iPhone.
Japan is not the only country which using the Felica thing for their transportation and so on, but other countries too.
Like the "Octopus Card" in HK, and somehow I am sure that it will be a big hit if this rumors are true.
 

konqerror

macrumors 68020
Dec 31, 2013
2,298
3,694
My guess (based on using PASMO in Japan) is that the Felica chip barely contains any data other than an account number that gets passed to the terminal.

I wish we could get something like this in the U.S. -- Carrying around RFID transit cards (if you travel a lot), or remembering to bring them with you, is such a hassle.

That's incorrect. It's the opposite. A contactless credit card just gives a number and authentication information, the terminal has to talk through the card network to the issuing bank. This takes time and requires a link. Back 20 years ago when these things came out, it was impractical for buses, taxis, ferries, etc. to have an Internet connection, and is still expensive today. (imagine $30/month per terminal)

FeliCa, Octopus, old Oyster, TransLink, etc. store the value in secure card hardware and transfer that value over to another secure chip in the terminal. At the end of the day, then each terminal is synchronized to the network once and money is reconciled. This makes it much faster but less secure. It is known that you can hack the cards. If a card is stolen, it can't be disabled until the end of the day. In some systems, a handheld device is brought to the bus, it gets synced to it, and then that device gets synced to the network, so it can take as long as two days to blacklist fraud.

Because of this, it will not compete against contactless credit cards for high-value transactions. At best, fast food, fares, and soda machines.

This is behind the times. Look how the new Oyster and Ventra does it, they just use an existing contactless credit card number and handle this stuff online/at the end of the day. You need zero new cards, and it works in any system with the same card.
 
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Junior117

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2015
284
362
Toronto, Canada
China initially had a special version of the iPhone because their phone networks were a bit different than the normal CDMA and GSM standards, IIRC. Eventually that functionality was brought into the standard phones and the special SKU was discontinued.

It wouldn't surprise me if the latter happened around the iPhone 7s or 8 timeframe for Japan's NFC standard as well assuming that the special Japanese SKU happened for iPhone 7.


Oh. Well, as long as Apple's plan is to eventually port that over to all phones in a near-future timeline, then I guess this is fine (again, assuming that this rumour is true).
 
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