This article is based on the Japanese version of Engadget and was created by machine translation.

The trademark application of "Mobile PASMO" has become a topic of conversation. According to the information published as "Trademark Application 2107 -122035", it targets "Watch-Type personal digital assistant and smartphone" and so on, and it is assumed to be something like the so-called "Mobile Suica" which can be used as "Osaifu-Keitai" or "Apple Pay".

Some may say, "Transportation-related IC cards share the same functions, so isn't Mobile Suica enough for the same function?". However, there is a restriction that "To issue a commuter pass with Suica, it is necessary to insert the JR East line into the commuting section." and this poses a problem for commuters who commute to work or schools along private railways in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which is that "Mobile Suica cannot be used as a commuter pass.". Therefore, even if you have an Osaifu-Keitai or iPhone, it is common to have a commuter IC card for commuting, or to use a combination of auto-charging so that you don't need Mobile Suica.

The fact that so much attention has been given to "Mobile PASMO" despite the fact that the news that "trademark application" is still circulating shows that there are a certain number of users who are not satisfied with Mobile Suica alone.

Unfortunately, PASMO officials have stated that they are not making any progress towards "Mobile PASMO" at least for now. PASMO is managed by the PASMO Association, in which major companies such as railways and buses participate, and when we asked Seibu Railway, which is in charge of the annual public relations office until July 2018, the council gave the following reply. PASMO (Seibu Railway) replied. "There are plans to register the mobile PASMO trademark, but nothing has been done at this time." "(Did you register first?) That's what happens."

As a precautionary measure, I asked Pasmo Inc., the company that actually operates PASMO, and they replied, "the state of being undecided" and it seems that only the trademark application took the lead for some reason. As far as I can tell from my sources, there are a couple of reasons why "Mobile PASMO" are hesitant to offer. In this article, we will arrange these in order.

Technical hurdles, batting against "Mobile Suica"

The first hurdle lies in the specifications of transportation IC cards, including PASMO and Suica. Generally, many of the transit IC cards distributed in Japan comply with the specifications of "Japan Railway Cybernetics Council (JRCC) " and even different types of cards, such as ICOCA and TOICA, have basically the same specifications and contain information inside the cards.

In the case of Suica, the FeliCa chip in the IC card has two areas, a common area used for "FeliCa pocket" and a secure area for actually processing Suica (dedicated area). The system code of "0003" is assigned to the access to the secure area of Suica, and the same system code of "0003" is used for other JRCC type IC cards. In other words, there is no problem when Suica and PASMO are used as a single IC card, but it is difficult to make applications of both standards (So Suica and PASMO.) coexist in the same FeliCa chip.

Then we move on to mobile. In the case of Osaifu-Keitai, when Mobile Suica is first registered in a device, a large number of Cybernetics Area (It depends on the environment, but it is said to be about half of the capacity.) are secured in the FeliCa secure element built in, and Mobile Suica is operated. As described above, the Mobile Suica secured as the Cybernetics Area shares the same system code as other transportation IC cards, and when Mobile Suica is Installed, there is no room for "Mobile PASMO" to coexist.

In other words, if "Mobile PASMO" exists, it is exclusive to Mobile Suica, and the same is true of other transportation IC cards. It can be said that this is a result of the fact that Suica was originally developed nationwide based on the specifications of Suica, and that today's mixed service environment such as mobile compatibility was not assumed, but this is the first hurdle to the introduction of Mobile PASMO.

The only solution to this problem is "To first select which service to use when registering transportation IC card service to a device.". It may be a bit confusing, but "Mobile Suica" and "Mobile PASMO" apps for charging online and buying tickets can coexist. This is tentatively called "Front End".

On the other hand, the data (Application) of the secure area inside the FeliCa SE, which controls the basis of electronic money, exists in the shared area of the different transportation IC card services and cannot coexist with each other. Therefore, when Mobile Suica or Mobile PASMO is introduced, it is necessary to check the usage status of the Cybernetics Area in FeliCa SE, and if it is already used for other services, it must be deleted after issuing a warning or cancel the operation.

Walls of "PASMO Association" and "Budget"

The next hurdle is the budget problem. I had asked PASMO before, "Why is it impossible to charge or pay with a mobile terminal at a ticket vending machine or a fare adjustment machine?" and the answer was, "Need to deploy a dedicated system for mobility". That's because you don't know if you can expect a return on your investment. This clearly shows the problem in the mobile PASMO introduction.

As of March 2017, JR East had 63.98 million Suica cards issued and 4.44 million Mobile Suica members. Now it looks like Apple Pay's entry into the domestic market has led to a slight increase in mobile adoption, but at this point, the mobile adoption rate is only 7%, which is hardly high.

As of 2014, 20 million PASMOs had been issued, and as of this writing, approximately 25 million PASMOs had been issued. Assuming a mobile usage rate similar to that of Suica, it would have 1.75 million users. It's a "Development and operation of mobile applications and back-end systems" for that number of users, and if there's a demand from users, it's a break-even point. The app is not just for Android phones, but for the iPhone now.

If building from scratch doesn't pay, the next thing you can think of is "Outsourcing to JR East". In order to effectively utilize the same mechanism, the company will develop applications and services that reflect some of the requests of the PASMO Association member companies and provide them as "Mobile PASMO". It would be the greatest common denominator of the compromise, since it would be almost impossible to incorporate the needs of all members, but at least it would be possible to issue "commuter pass" which is the minimum requirement. The question is, "Budget" and how much is the outsourcing fee?

According to one source, when PASMO made a similar proposal to East Japan Railway Company, it was presented with a budget of hundreds of millions of yen for each member company, not for the entire PASMO. The PASMO Association is originally a council system of member companies, and while some companies have sufficient financial strength, others do not, making it difficult to unify opinions.

Still, PASMO certainly seems to be considering something. I ' ll go into more detail later, but I 've also heard that PASMO is planning to ride the behind-the-scenes Osaifu-Keitai movement, which is also nearing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In any case, it will be difficult to launch a service like "Mobile PASMO" this year or next year, but people along the line should not be disappointed and just wait and see.

This article is based on the Japanese version of Engadget and was created by machine translation. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.

[Image : YouTube(PASMO)]