Apple Pay became available in Japan on Monday alongside the release of iOS 10.1, and the service’s launch in the country has been marred by difficulties. A number of users reported issues with Suica mobile transit cards, and Apple also reported ongoing issues over a five hour period.
According to Apple’s Japanese System Status webpage, “some users” were impacted by system complications. The issues appear to have started at around 9:20AM local time. However, a separate report from NHK indicates mobile Suica issues reared their collective heads at around 7:30AM local time, a busy time for commuters in Tokyo and the surrounding areas.
In addition to Apple, JR East, the company that markets and maintains the Suica mobile transit card system, also reported Apple Pay-related system issues on its website. (Via AtaDistance) Customers using Apple Pay’s Suica feature were unable to recharge transit card funds, leaving them stranded at the gate if their Suica balance is less than the amount of the transit fare. Users also reported being unable to buy express tickets via the Mobile Suica system.
JR East says the 3.5 hour Mobile Suica outage was due to 10 times the normal server traffic load with service restored by 11:00AM.
Japanese users vented their frustration on twitter this morning as iCloud servers strained under Apple Pay Japan launch day traffic. The Apple Japan iCloud status page showed that some users could not access Apple Pay. NHK also reported problems with JR East’s Mobile Suica system that experienced heavy traffic. The JR East Suica support page […] acknowledged the unresponsive Mobile Suica server status and asked for customer patience.
While Apple Pay users faced issues with the system, Suica IC cards remained functional during the outage, indicating the problem was on the Apple Pay end of things, as it was possibly unable to keep up with the massive influx of usage from Japan’s transit commuters.