Apple Pay nets WAON, nanaco prepaid card support in Japan

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Japanese prepaid cards WAON and nanaco launched Apple Pay support with special Wallet integrations on Wednesday, bringing two of the country's three major e-Money systems into the fold.

Available on Google Pay since 2018, Aeon's WAON and Seven & i Holdings' nanaco are now available to iPhone and Apple Watch users, reports Ata Distance. Notably, users are able to directly transfer plastic cards to Wallet in iOS 15, a usability feature not available on other platforms.

Both payment services typically require users to go through a mobile registration process that ties generated accounts to prepaid cards, a system that necessitates standalone apps. While WAON and nanaco now field iOS apps to perform those duties, WAON users can add new cards directly to Wallet without creating an account.

A new region-specific "e-Money" option in the Wallet app now appears for Japanese users and facilitates WAON card issuances. Adding a WAON card directly to Wallet voids in-app benefits like the ability to view transaction histories, auto-recharge provisioned cards, earn double card points and more, but those features can be activated in the dedicated app at a later date.

Apple Pay users also have the option of adding physical cards to Wallet, a boon for people who prefer to recharge with cash instead of a stored credit card. The process is similar to loading a Suica or PASMO card: open Wallet, enter a card code and date of birth, and scan the card with iPhone's camera. Once provisioned in Wallet, the physical card is useless and operators suggest that it be destroyed.

It should be noted that Express Mode is not available when using WAON or nanaco cards, and users must verify their identity via Face ID or Touch ID before conducting a transaction with iPhone. The security restrictions make Wallet on Apple Watch a more attractive alternative, Ata Distance says.

Apple Pay has steadily built out product integrations and third-party support since launching in Japan in 2016. The system debuted with a Suica transit card partnership and last year added PASMO and Line Pay options. Most recently, Visa activated support for Apple's service through a number of card issuers in May.