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Overshadowed by Apple's recent glut of hardware news, the company's latest mobile devices now feature NFC technology that allows all iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3 devices, even those sold outside of Japan, to interact with FeliCa terminals.
Apple quietly announced the new NFC capability in a change to its regional Japan Apple Pay webpage shortly after announcing its new mobile device lineup on Sept. 12.
The updated page was spotted by local blog Ata Distance, which notes global support for the FeliCa standard could open the door to multiple contactless payment platforms in Asia.
Apple's first devices with FeliCa support debuted last year with iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2 models sold in Japan. The company later activated the system as part of Japan's Apple Pay debut, which launched with iOS 10.1 last November.
Initially developed by Sony as an RFID chip solution, the FeliCa standard was later hybridized for cellphone use with the cooperation of Japan's leading cellular provider NTT Docomo. That version, called Mobile FeliCa, served as the basis of Apple's NFC Type-F implementation in iPhone and Apple Watch.
With FeliCa support, users can apply Apple Pay to Suica charges and tap-to-pay solutions from Docomo and QUICPay. Until now, however, FeliCa functionality was limited to iPhone and Apple Watch products sold within Japan.
Shedding more light on how Apple's new system works, the company this week added support for JCB J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless credit cards, both of which fall under Toyota Finance Corporation's TS CUBIC Card brand. Notably, J/Speedy and MasterCard Contactless rely on NFC A-B technology to operate, suggesting iOS 11 implements on-the-fly NFC A-B-F switching.
Further, Apple Pay Japan users can now pay with American Express abroad, while 7-Eleven announced forthcoming support for the new J/Speedy implementation.
With FeliCa now onboard all iPhone 8, iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3 devices, Apple Pay is free to make its way into neighboring countries that utilize the payments protocol. For example, the technology is employed in Hong Kong's Octopus card, a successor of the region's Mass Transit Railway contactless payment system that is now widely used by retailers.