Monday, May 22, 2006

Mobile Suica

I finally got the Mobile Suica function activated on my new mobile phone. This is the feature I was talking about to use the IC chip in the phone act as a prepaid card for all of the Japan Railway trains in eastern Japan. (I'm actually not sure if it works in western Japan - the two branches of JR seem to operate semi-independently but they both have similar IC card systems that may well be interoperable.)

It took longer than I thought, because they only accept the JR-based "View" card brand of credit cards for charging of the IC chip, so I had to apply and wait for one.

But on Saturday I plugged all the info in, charged it with 10,000yen from the card (which will appear on my next credit card bill), and boom, I was ready to go. Tried it yesterday and it worked like a charm. Waved my mobile phone over the turnstile sensor, and the LED on the outside of the phone lit up blue, the gates opened, and the turnstyle display showed 200yen deducted and 9,800yen remaining. Cool!

Next up is charging the other IC electronic-money applet in the phone, which will let me use my phone to pay for small purchases in convenience stores and other locations. Kind of silly, maybe, but it will cut down on the amount of small change I need to carry around.

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