Apple Pay launch in Japan encounters major problems

Apple Pay has launched in Japan, but the mobile payment method’s integration with JR East’s Suica transit card has hit a major snag, as acknowledged by Apple’s website. Apple said that problems cropped up around 9:20 a.m. local time, when users started having difficulty adding Suica cards to Apple Pay or were unable to add money to their cards. Users also had problems accessing JR East’s “Mobile Suica” system to buy express tickets, which local publication NHK attributed to an increase in traffic around 7:30 a.m. after people started realizing Apple Pay wasn’t working.
According to Bloomberg, JR East claimed the problems were resolved in a couple of hours, but Apple’s website is still showing disruptions in various services. In the meantime, the regular Suica card can be used as usual. Commuters took to Twitter to express their displeasure, with one user saying, “This makes me worried about system stability going forward.” But with “Mobile Suica” and “Apple Pay” topping the trending searches in Japan this morning, Eiichiro Yanagawa, a senior analyst for consulting firm Celent, took a more optimistic view of the situation. “It’s a shame that systems went down, but it shows just how much user interest there is,” Yanagawa said. “They’ll be able to learn from today’s experience to improve services for the future. We can probably take this as a positive sign.”