Consumers in Japan will soon be able to use their iPhones to pay for things just like Apple fans in the United States and other parts of the world.
Apple announced Wednesday at its iPhone event in San Francisco that it will include new technology in the iPhone 7 and the Apple Watch Series 2 to expand availability of its Apple Pay app to Japan. Apple Pay will be available in Japan starting in October, the company said.
Since its launch in 2014, Apple Pay has expanded to more than half a dozen countries around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and China, but Japan had not been one of them.
Making Apple Pay available in Japan involved Apple tweaking its technology to support the FeliCa mobile payment technology developed by Sony. This tap-and-pay contactless payment system is similar to NFC, which is currently used by Apple Pay and other contactless payment systems around the world. Besides its already wide acceptance in Japan, FeliCa's advantage over Apple Pay is said to be in speedy transaction time -- just 0.1 second, according to Sony -- because its transaction process isn't hobbled by required bank approval.
The FeliCa chip can also store e-money, an electric form of currency that's accepted at vending machines and cafes across the country.
Apple Pay launched in the US in October 2014 as Apple's first venture into contactless mobile payments. Using a newer iPhone, you can pay for items on the go at supported retailers via NFC or Near Field Communications technology. You also can use Apple Pay to make purchases in apps without having to enter your credit card information each time, as well as pay with your Apple Watch. And with Mac OS Sierra, Apple Pay is now available on Apple computers.
Mobile payments, which has been discussed for years, has been slow to take off. But many more customers are expected to start using their smartphone to buy items in stores now that three of the biggest tech companies in the world -- Apple, Google and Samsung -- have introduced new mobile-payments platforms.