As anticipated by Android Police earlier this month Suica has officially launched on Google Pay in Japan. Mobile Suica has been available on the Android platform since 2011 via the Osaifu-Keitai e-wallet service offered by the major Japanese carriers NTT Docomo, KDDI au and Softbank.
With this rollout all the major stored value “prepaid” e-money cards are now on Google Pay: Suica, WAON, nananco and Rakuten EDY. JCB and JACCS credit card support and the Japanese P2P startup Kyash service is promised for later this summer. It’s not clear however what Android devices are supported beyond Osaifu-Keitai models from the major JP carriers. As I wrote earlier, FeliCa support on Android devices outside of the Japan market is a complicated story, Google support of FeliCa up to now has been uneven at best.
Hopefully we’ll get a clearer picture in the next few days.
Japanese Twitter users are posting lots of interesting details and the list of Google Pay Suica limitations continues to grow: one Suica per phone, limited (no?) Suica Commuter support, no Shinkansen e-tickets, Google Pay Suica transaction records only cover purchases, not transit, and so on.
Osaifu-Keitai Android users will continue to rely on the Mobile Suica app to cover the functions that Google Pay Suica does not support.
Google Pay users outside of Japan who do not have a Osaifu-Keitai compatible model are waking up to the rude fact that Google Pay does not give them all that FeliCa Apple Pay Suica-like goodness out of the box.
Google Pay Japan is exactly what Android Pay Japan was: a thin veneer over Osaifu-Keitai that confuses the hell out of Android users around the world. A lot of angry users will vent that this is a ‘Japanese tech’ failure but the reality is that this is simply a Google choice. Google could have licensed the entire FeliCa stack like Apple did but they didn’t.
My money says it is a market related political choice to keep the JP carriers happy selling carrier locked Android devices. The Android equivalent of the Global FeliCa iPhone has yet to appear.
(Via Ata Distance)