SUICA and e-money for transport (13th edition)

SUICA: prepaid fares, e-money and mobile payments. An analysis of one of the world’s largest e-money systems.

Version 13 of May 12, 2014
pdf file, approx. 169 pages, 3 Figures, 60 Photographs, 12 Tables, 3.1 Mbyte

Lead author: Gerhard Fasol, works since 1984 with Japan’s technology industries.

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Summary – SUICA report:

SUICA is the electronic and mobile ticketing and e-cash system used in the greater Tokyo area and several other areas of Japan. About 20 million cards have been issued – and we estimate that over 30 million cards will be issued by 2010. We estimate that it is used for around US$ 10 billion per year in transactions. These figures make it one of the largest electronic cash and prepaid fare systems.

On March 18, 2007 PASMO was launched. PASMO is an electronic fare and e-cash system for about 100 transportation companies in the Tokyo area and is fully compatible and interoperable. PASMO planned to sell 5 million PASMO cards in the first year – however almost 4 million PASMO cards were sold within the first three weeks alone. This report explains the details these systems, and of several other related electronic fare and electronic cash systems currently used in Japan.

Table of Contents – SUICA prepaid fares and e-money analysis report:

  • Executive Summary:
    What is the meaning?
  • Competitive landscape of Japan’s emerging electronic cash and electronic payment industry
    Mobile payment and keitai credit
    Keitai credit – development and trends
    Graphical map of Japan’s mobile payment and keitai credit sector
    e-cash (prepaid)
    Keitai credit (postpaid)
  • What is SUICA and why.
    Replace cash
    20 years development history
    What is SUICA and why?
    Third generation fare collection
    Replacing mechanical ticket gates with wireless non-contact reader/writers
  • Quantitative data and time line.
    20 million users within 5 years of introduction (graphics: number of issued cards with and without credit function, season tickets
    Basic data
    Some basic data: main applications, usage area, number of cards issued, total issued and stored value
    Time line
    JR East VIEW card time line and link
    Test introduction and results (April-July 2001)
    “Touch and go”
    PASMO: combining Passnet and the joint Tokyo area bus pass from March 18, 2007
    Management of PASMO
    Passnet, Joint Buss Pass (Data for July 2003)
    Joint equipment
    e-cash functions
    Marketing PASMO: Pasmo-Robot Character
  • Icoca
    The Icoca Card System
    Icoca/ Suica interoperability
  • The Pitapa System
    The Pitapa IC Card System
    Pitapa for ecash
  • From August 1, 2006: joint use of Suica, Icoca and Pitapa
    The Pitapa IC Card System
    Pitapa for ecash
    Comparing the systems
  • Toica in the Chubu/Nagoya area
    The Toica card system
  • JAL Card: Combining SUICA with the Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
    JAL Card
  • The Platform
    The card platform
    Fare gate
    Contactless reader/writer
    Linking with the view Credit Card
  • First Class travel e-tickets
  • prepaid electronic cash
    Why electronic cash
    Requirements for electronic cash
    SUICA competitor for e-Cash: Edy overview and explanation
    JR-East partners with Convenience store chain FamilyMart
    Cash register (POS) with SUICA reader/writer
    Images of stores which accept SUICA during the monitor test period, and after introduction
    Suica as e-cash at the Kiosk
    Luggage locker operated by SUICA
  • Mobile SUICA field trial
    Mobile SUICA field trial, description
    Schematics of using a mobile phone with SUICA functionality at a railway fare gate
    Mobile SUICA as part of the i-mode Felica Service
    SO504iC (SONY Ericsson SO504i + FeliCa smart-card)
  • EZ Felica – KDDI’s Wallet Phone
  • In preparation: Contactless IC cards and wallet phones for the Tokyo-Osaka Tokaido Shinkansen
    The JR Tokai Express Card
    The JR Tokai Express Card: statistics for the Tokyo-Osaka shinkansen
    Ticket purchase via internet site
    Ticket purchase via mobile phone
  • Odakyu Romance Card club – tickets via mobile phone
  • What are wallet phones and why
    Mobile Suica
    Felica Networks
  • SUICAs Technology: The FeliCa platform
    FeliCa description
    Inside view of Felica (with pictures of cut open FeliCa cards)
    FeliCa and standards, communication standards
    Technical data of selected FeliCa cards (anticollision type, ordinary and with magnet stripe for non-contactless read/write)
    FeliCa compared with other IC-Cards
    VISA, SONY, Infineon alliance
    "Pasoli" contactless secure reader/writer for FeliCa cards and connection to PCs or cash registers
    FeliCa Networks
    "i-Mode – FeliCa preview service"
    – Overview and explanation
    – Listing of participating companies
    – Applications tested (summary outline)
  • Security and privacy
  • FeliCa for transportation: Octopus, Suica, …
    FeliCa for fare collection
    FeliCa as a de-facto standard for transportation payments
    FeliCa: Octopus card (Hong Kong)
    Felica in Hong Kong, Singapore, New Delhi and Bangkok
    FeliCa based transportation tickets in Japan
    Images of selected FeliCa based cards in Japan
  • FeliCa and Mifare
    Outline of FeliCa system, system overview
    Moible phone with Felica system and near field communication system
    FeliCa and Mifare
    Felica and NXP Joint Venture
  • Summary


We produce market research on Japan’s technology markets since 1996. We use the following methods:

  • Desk research: public domain data, internet resources
  • Official data from Government sources, Government white papers, public domain Government data bases, industry associations, and other trade organizations
  • Data from Annual reports and other public disclosures by companies
  • “Gray literature”: materials distributed at trade shows, conferences, workshops
  • Public presentations, lectures, keynote talks, Press conferences
  • Trade shows and events. We regularly visit a large number of trade shows and industry events, mainly in the Tokyo, Osaka areas, but also in US and Europe.
  • Interviews, discussions at trade shows, and other industry events
  • Cross checking and cross validation of data from different sources.
  • Analysis using sophisticated, research grade mathematical and statistical software, and proprietary analysis software developed by Eurotechnology Japan KK.
  • Our proprietary data base of industry data, photographs, and information collected since our company foundation in 1996/1997 mainly covering Japan’s electronics, telecommunications and energy industries.
  • Our research and analysis staff is mainly PhD level and highly trained and experienced.

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  • Besides Oyster, are these cards gaining ground in Europe?

    • there are quite a number: Calypso / Navigo in Paris and similar IC cards in several other French towns, OV-chipkaart in Holland, LisbonViva in Lisbon, Mobib in Flanders, Opencard in Prague, SL Access in Stockholm and some more. The big difference is that SUICA and the other Japanese cards are business, while in Europe these cards are non-business government social service which is a huge difference.

      • Thanks for your reply, Gerhard. Is Oyster also government-owned?

        In any event, these are all pipe dreams for New York, my home base. It would be nice if we could at least add value to the Metrocard, our transit card, in other locations besides metro stations, but the only changes that the MTA has made recently involve fare increases.

        Referring back to Tokyo, I remember the seminal days of Pasmo and Suica when they weren’t interchangeable.

        Moreover, from a tourism perspective, being able to print out a list of the last twenty places where you used Suica is highly appreciated! (, but because JR doesn’t serve HND, is it possible to print it out there as well?

        • Pasmo and Suica have been interchangeable from the beginning. Pasmo is essentially a white label edition of Suica. You should be able to print out the transaction records of Pasmo and Suica on both types of machines, but I am not sure in detail. Best is you try it out. It used to be possible to get the trip history also displayed on in a web browser, but that was stopped because of privacy reasons

  • Midori

    How can I access to the original data? Would I have to speak to JR East to buy the data? I cannot find any contacts on their website. Please let me know how you got hold of the data.

    • Dear Midori-san,

      thank you for your interest. Which data exactly do you need? We will send you mail and discuss directly with you.

      Regarding JR-East, their SUICA website is here: you can find a lot of information about SUICA on this site.

      Regarding our data, following your request, we added a section about the methods we use on this page above. Since our foundation in 1996/1997 our company has performed a very wide and deep range of market research. In the electronic money, mobile payment, SUICA sector, since the beginning we have been in discussions with all the major players, we have taken part and have co-organizing and given keynotes at many major industry events, e.g. the Global Mobile Payment Forum, and we have worked on a number of business projects, advisory and consulting projects. Our reports are based on a wide range of information sources, participation at conferences, discussions with many players, and our own analysis and research. e.g. we participated as trial users in the very first test introduction of SUICA between Ikebukuro and Ebisu (I think) on the Yamanote-Line, before SUICA was officially introduced. On the technical side, our company also worked on the IC Chip side of one of the major chip-card systems outside Japan.

      Please lets discuss by email how we can help you.