EAST Japan Railway (JR East) has announced a new medium to long-term growth strategy. Beyond the Borders aims to shift the focus of the business to better respond to Japan’s aging and declining population with the goal of doubling revenue and operating profit from its lifestyle solutions business unit within the next 10 years.

JR East says the basis of this growth strategy is the evolution of its Suica prepaid rechargeable contactless smartcard and electronic money system into a “lifestyle device” accessible through a new smartphone app. The app will incorporate services “beyond the borders” of JR East’s traditional transport applications, helping the railway to grow revenue.

Proposed future steps include integrating Ekinet, JR East’s online passenger reservations platform, and Mobile Suica, a mobile phone version of the smartcard, into the new app by fiscal 2027. JR East will also seek to offer travel, finance, payment, and biometric authentication functions within the app. It will also launch a new cloud-based ticketing platform that will provide incentives and rewards for passengers, such as a free return ticket if they spend a certain amount at a JR East station.

Further evolution of the app is planned for 2028 in which specific services will be tailored to individual users. JR East will leverage big data collected via the evolved Suica to link transport data with real and digital services. This will enable the effective delivery of personalised services and information based on customers' personal interests, hobbies and health. The data and insights gained will further enhance Suica, creating a feedback loop for continuous improvement.

JR East is also planning to expand the successful Tokyo-area market concept based on Suica to international projects, with a particular focus on participating in Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) projects in Asia.

Beyond the Borders succeeds JR East’s previous business growth strategy, Next 10.