How are japanese IC cards so fast at detecting and processing payment?

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Japanese IC cards are so amazingly fast I don’t even have to slow down from a fast walk when paying for access to the subway line, or any train or vending machine for that matter.

In other countries, you have to tap the card on the machine and leave it there for a few seconds before it registers your pay.

How did japan get their IC cards to work so fast?

In: Technology

6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

An IC card is a card that has been topped up with some cash that you can use to pay for your fare. The card isnt bound to any user so therefore it only contains very limited information. There is no need for the machine to call back to a server, validate authenticity and time limit etc. When you tap, the machine only checks a few things, that its valid, and that you have money on the card, this is almost instant, it may link up to a server depending on the machine but in most cases the machine can be off the grid even.

Essentially, its so fast because there is so little the machine has to check and look up, all it needs to know is that your card is valid, for how long and that it has money on it.

Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments

its a bit over half a year since i looked it up and i dont feel like doing it rn (sleepy) but AFAIK they use the FeliCa rfid standard that is specifically optimized for speed, most of the world doesnt use it because you would have to pay a fee to Sony. whereas most other rfid standards and the EMV payment card system can be used by many companies (if you want to use it in japan “visa de tachi dajobu desu ka” is a useful sentence so they don’t try the other style card terminal).

that is also the reason that only few phone brands can be used at those gates without activating/ buying the phone in Japan (the iphone activates the feature when you are in japan, google pixel also do something like that i think, most others don’t do anything unless you bought the japan edition)

one neat thing about FeliCa enabled phones is that it works completely autonomously from the phone, even if it doesn’t have any battery. so theres no time wasted going through the phones processing before sending the authentication reply to the scanner

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not so much about the card but the scanning equipment itself. The card itself only holds a few bytes of data. The scanner takes the card data, and has to run them against a database to ensure that the card is valid and has money for the fare. This database is not stored inside the scanner itself but somewhere else, probably not even in the station itself but most likely a centralised server location. So basically in Japan, or at least Tokyo, given the volume of passengers on trains and their priority on smooth and quick operation, they’ve made sure that the latency on this process is as low as possible.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Usage of the card involves scanning it at a card reader. The card’s technology allows for it to be read at a short distance from the reader, so contact is not required,

Anonymous 0 Comments

Iirc Felicia cards run on a higher frequency than traditional rfid tags so data can be exchanged faster