[https://tidbits.com/2018/06/15/uk-travel-tips-giffgaff-for-cellular-and-apple-pay-for-transit/](UK Travel Tips: Giffgaff for Cellular and Apple Pay for Transit)

Apple Pay for Transit

The challenge of driving on the opposite side of the road was one thing when we were out on the motorways and around Stratford-Upon-Avon, but driving in London was insane, what with the traffic, squirrely little roads, trying to match Google Maps directions with difficult to find street signs, and more. We were happy to return our rental car right after arriving and planned to use London’s famed public transit system—the London Tube!—for the rest of the trip.

Relying on public transit systems as a tourist is often quite stressful, between the confusion of trying to figure out routes and figuring out the local payment systems and policies. Luckily, both Google Maps and Apple’s Maps did a good job of providing detailed directions that included walking routes when switching from a bus to the Tube, for instance. But payments were still a worry because there are all sorts of variables based on zones, time of day, age, and more.

The advice we’d been given by tech-savvy friends who had been to London recently was to just use Apple Pay. When you do that, TfL’s system tracks your usage throughout the day and charges you the lowest appropriate fare—taking into account daily caps that make the final amounts cheaper than day or week passes. (An alternative would have been to buy one of TfL’s contactless Oyster cards, add money to it, and then get it refunded when we left the country. Our friends did that for their young children, who didn’t have iPhones. Also, we could have used contactless credit cards, which are still rare in the US, if we’d had them.)

The physical process of paying with Apple Pay is brilliant—most of the time. There’s a yellow payment pad on gates in the Tube stations and at the front of buses. You invoke Apple Pay, authenticate, and then touch your device to the pad. (You’re supposed to be able to touch your device to the pad to invoke Apple Pay and then authenticate, but that didn’t work the one time I tried it.) The gates then open, or a light turns green, indicating you can proceed. For the Tube, you have to touch in when you enter the station and touch out when you leave; for buses, you just touch in when you board and don’t need to touch out.

If you want to use Apple Pay for public transit in London, there are a few quirks to keep in mind:

• Use a supported credit card. Our debit cards from our local credit union had no currency conversion fees, so we thought we’d use them with Apple Pay. However, it turned out that US debit cards generally aren’t accepted in the UK, so we had to set Apple Pay to use a different credit card. Make sure you have a few credit cards loaded into Apple Pay to be safe.

• Use the same device each time. To avoid higher fares for seemingly incomplete journeys and to take advantage of the daily capping, you have to touch in and touch out with the same device for all your trips in a day. In other words, settle on your iPhone or your Apple Watch, and don’t switch. We only used our iPhones because I’ve had more trouble in general with Apple Pay payments registering from the Apple Watch. (Although I’m sad that I didn’t try it one day when we had little travel planned.)

• Be patient and try again if necessary. We had a non-trivial number of failures, where Tristan and I would get through the gates, for instance, but the system would reject Tonya’s payment. Some of that was user error, as we all figured out how to use Apple Pay more fluidly, but other failures had no obvious cause. It might have been related to all three of us using the same credit card in too quick succession, but sometimes everything worked as expected. Apart from suffering dirty looks from other commuters who we were blocking, there was no problem with waiting briefly or trying another gate—it always worked in the end.

Regular readers know I enjoy a good contactless payment travel story. While not as frictionless as the Japan system(s), this seems workable for a visit.

How to Use Suica with Apple Pay when Traveling to Japan – Mason Simon

Suica is one of the main transit payment cards in Japan. It has a cute and fun design and works in lots of places aside from train stations. Apple supports using your Suica via Apple Pay, and has a great support article on how to set that up. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me.

I live in USA and traveled to Tokyo recently. I used an iPhone X (supported) and followed all the steps in the support article, including setting my device region to Japan. But when I went to add a new card to Apple Pay, I never received the prompt to add a Suica.

After a couple of pleasant calls with Apple support, it sounded like the problem was that I had an Apple Music subscription, which locked my iTunes account to USA. I tried canceling that, but you have to wait for the thing to expire, and my trip would be over by then.

Luckily, there is another way.

(Via Mason Simon)

Read on for the scoop. This is one of the best write-ups I’ve seen & the one I wish was around when I moved here.

Google Pay bellyflops in Japan:

That didn’t take long. No sooner had Google Pay landed in Japan when Android users without JP carrier locked Osaifu-Keitai phones noticed they weren’t invited to the FeliCa party and lost their shit. Then local Japanese tech journalists filed reviews and they were not kind: “zannen” which means “too bad” as in “too bad Google Pay is a weak imitation of a real FeliCa Osaifu-Keitai that any user could add and use on any Android phone.” Too bad it’s not a Global FeliCa iPhone.

I called it a few weeks ago:

If and when Google Pay Suica arrives it will likely be on Osaifu-Keitai /Mobile FeliCa enabled locked Android devices from Japanese carriers. Global FeliCa iPhone-like out-of-the-box Mobile Suica on ‘global FeliCa’ Android devices from anywhere looks to be a long way off.

FeliCa Dude called it earlier: “Android Pay is smoke and mirrors”

Google Pay Japan is smoke and mirrors.

(Via atadistance.com)

Not that my US-purchased Google Nexus 6P would have been included in this due to age if not build, but I would have liked a truly viable option to the Apple Pay & Suica combo. I’m not looking to switch but competition could be good for innovation.

Google Pay Suica Goes Live:

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.

(Via Ata Distance)

This might be too little, too late. Apple Pay has a huge lead here. The fragmented nature of Android devices doesn’t help.

UPDATE: More Google Pay Suica MIA:

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.

(Via Ata Distance)

UPDATE 2: Google Pay + HCE-F ≠ FeliCa Suica:

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)

Also on:

Of Course In-App Payments Are Bigger Than Apple Pay! In America That is…:

Apple Pay Suica proved that small purchases are the no-brainer starting point for digital wallets. Anybody will use an app, or Apple Pay, to pay for the 3.05 cup of coffee because nobody wants to bother with coins. Nobody uses Apple Pay to purchase a 600 dollar couch.

The real golden uptake path for a digital wallet platform like Apple Pay is when it is matched with a stored value card that includes transit and purchase with points, in short a transit platform. America doesn’t have one yet so the in-app recharge with reward points approach will continue to be more popular than Apple Pay by itself.

(Via Ata Distance)

Also on:

The Daily Grind

One thing I can say about Japanese customers after living in the country for 30 years is this: Japanese customers are quiet, fair, possess a dry, critical but practical way of dealing with things and are hard-nosed, some of the most hard nosed customers in the world I think. They like what is good, dislike what is bad, and simply stop using something that doesn’t work for them. But once they feel betrayed by a product, they silently drop it and never come back.

iOS 11.4 Beta 3 Does Not Fix The iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Error Problem

Just a public service message that iOS 11.4 beta 3 (15F5061e) does not fix the iPhone X Suica Problem.

Meanwhile, in other news mentioned by atadistance.net, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

Also on:

From https://atadistance.net/2018/04/13/jr-east-and-apple-quietly-fix-a-suica-weakness/:

One of neat things about Apple Pay Suica is how easy it is to add, delete and migrate Suica cards to different iPhones. iCloud and Mobile Suica keep the Suica card information and balance safe and secure no matter what device it’s on.

There was one weakness however: the Suica card ID number changed every time the card was deleted and re-installed in Wallet. …

Fortunately Apple and JR East have fixed this weakness. Now when you delete a Suica card from Wallet and re-install it the Suica ID number does not change.

I was annoyed by this “weakness”, which probably was a design flaw. Glad to see it is addressed but not looking forward to the next time this applies to me.

Apple Pay Suica Spring Campaign 2018:

JR East kicked off their Apple Pay Suica 2018 spring campaign today, running March 19 to April 30. It’s an exact repeat of the 2017 spring campaign:

(Via Ata Distance)

Check out the article for all the juicy details, such as:

The tricky part is that you have to use the Suica App and have a Mobile Suica account to purchase a new Suica commuter plan or receive the ¥2,000 cash-back refund.

Joel gives you the information you need.

The Apple Pay Japan One Year Mark:

Apple Pay in Japan is all about Apple Pay Suica which we already knew. In the Suica home base area, the Kanto region, contactless payments grew from 20% of total transactions to more than 40% in the year that Apple Pay Suica has been available. My analysis is that Apple Pay Suica is responsible for driving that change. What used to be ‘some people some of the time’ is quickly transitioning to ‘most people most of the time’.

One 7-Eleven store owner summed it up nicely: “e-money (Suica) purchases have really taken off this past year.”

(Via Ata Distance)

I will not stop talking about how great Apple Pay Suica is for transit and purchasing. The rest of the world needs this.

https://atadistance.net/2018/01/25/rating-apple-pay-suica-performance-in-ios-11-2-5/

Japanese Apple Pay Suica users and iPhone X users are tweeting and blogging about the Apple Pay Suica performance improvements in the iOS 11.2.5 update. So far the reports are very good. But how good is good and can it be even better?

Read the article for the dazzling details. My anecdotal experience is that watchOS/iOS is working well with Suica. None of the momentary failures and seems more spritely in paying.