Apple Pay is adding support for the Felica contactless RFID technology in preparation for its launch in Japan at the end of next month.
The news was confirmed at Apple's annual WWDC developer conference, touted as one of a host of new features for the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2.
Initially developed by Sony, Felica is used for contactless card payments and - thanks to a modification developed by a Sony-NTT DoCoMo subsidiary around a decade ago - also works in mobile phones, making it the basis for several handset-based wallets.
The Apple integration means that Japanese iPhone 7 users can pay for their commutes through the Suica contactless payments system from railway company JR East. Apple Pay will be accepted anywhere Suica is available, so users can make quick everyday purchases and buy or reload a Suica card or commuter pass with their iPhone.
Japan’s major financial brands will also support Apple Pay, so shoppers can make purchases in many of the country's largest stores, at neighborhood shops and restaurants, and from online merchants. Apple says that brands representing more than three-quarters of all credit card spending in Japan are onboard.
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple, says: "Apple Pay will transform your daily routine, from making your commute easier and more convenient than ever with Suica right on your iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2, to using your favorite cards to make secure and private purchases with a single touch."
Tetsuro Tomita, president and CEO, East Japan Railway, adds: "For iPhone 7, we redesigned an entirely new experience from the ground up so our customers can enjoy the ease and security of using Apple Pay while commuting, in our app and in stores with Suica."
Although not given a headline slot at WWDC, Apple Pay on the Web is also expected to arrive alongside the launch of iOS 10 next week and will be made available for Safari users on any Mac introduced from 2012 on. Online furnishing and decor outlet Wayfair is first off the mark, announcing immediate support for the new payment option.
Likewise, the update to the iMessage app has already got some banks thinking about the future possibilities.
"It is the iMessage app store which is a new shift in direction - when one of your existing apps works with iMessage then this is automatically downloaded into the iMessage app ‘draw’. Giving you new features to share with other iOS10 users," says Starling Bank engineer and self-confessed Apple fanboy Julian Sawyer. "For our customers, we see the potential for them to be able to make a payment via iMessage in future versions.