back to article Hong Kong underground gets pay-by-bonk

The Octopus card, used to pay for tubes, buses, ferries and trams in Hong Kong, is now available as an NFC app for download onto an operator SIM, making pay-by-bonk a reality in the Chinese administrative area. The app will only run on a handful of Sony phones, and NFC player Gemalto is providing 5,000 new NFC-enabled SIM cards …

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Silver badge
Unhappy

TfL want to scrap Oyster for credit cards? Please no.

Oyster is one of the few good things about my business trips to London. I'm quite happy topping up every so often and providing reciepts with my expenses. I do not want to be required to provide my employer with copies of my credit card or bank statements in order to claim back tube fares.

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It's a bit more of a faff, but wouldn't getting another (no recurring fee, of course) credit card, and using it only for expenses, work just as well? So, every time the statement comes in, you claim the whole balance, and there wouldn't be anything private you don't want your employer to see?

(Assuming TfL ever get the card option working.)

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J I

Called Octopus because...

While Wikipedia says the name 'Octopus' was chosen in an open competition, someone from Sony's FeliCa group (who developed the card) once insisted to me that it was actually a Japanese pun. In Japanese "oku" is the verb "to place" while "to" means "and", so "oku-to-pass" can be understood in Japanese as "place it and pass", and pronounced in Japanese it sounds the same as "octopus". Not a particularly amusing pun or indeed a very useful piece of information, but for some reason I remembered it and thought I'd share it anyway.

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Bronze badge

Hong Kong have been using multi-model tickets like these since the 1980s, it was part of the conditions for the MTR (Mass Transit Railway - metro system) as otherwise the banks would have refused to provide the financing if they were going to be innundated with millions of 10p coins every day.

I remember using my MTR card on the bus, in cafes, in libraries, in cinemas TWENTY years ago in Hong Kong. Why does it take this country so long to catch up?

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Anonymous Coward

>I remember using my MTR card on the bus, in cafes, in libraries, in cinemas TWENTY years ago in Hong Kong. Why does it take this country so long to catch up?

Probably because we've got a massively more complex transport system in London. Also, I don't want to be able to pay for things on my Oyster other than transport.

I was impressed by the Octopus system when I first used it though. Still have one somewhere.

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Bronze badge

Six million people live in Hong Kong in the most densely packed transport network in the world. How many live in that little London place?

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Facepalm

"Six million people live in Hong Kong in the most densely packed transport network in the world. How many live in that little London place?"

LMGTFY... 8 million.

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Silver badge
Pint

The Subways in Hong Kong are FREE to use!

Subway = an underground crosswalk, not the underground railway MTR

It still makes me laugh.

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Not Taxis

I'll just point out that you can't actually use the Octopus card to pay for taxis in HK.

People have been asking for it for years, and they did run a trial , but it wasn't popular with the drivers , and I imagine it cut into tips quite a bit.

So don't get into a taxi thinking the money on your Octopus card will pay for the trip!

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Anonymous Coward

I think there are some Octopus equipped taxis around still?

Anyway, Octopus with Automatic Add Value Service linked to your credit card is a great thing. The only thing I use cash for is eating out and boozing....probably just as well bars don't take it, could be dangerous ;)

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Love my Lobster Card

Exactly, the Oyster card is brilliant and makes getting about in London a pleasure not a fsckin nightmare like it used to be. And it's brilliant because it has limits on what it can spend every day, and so on. Why change anything?

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Octopus user since its introduction

I live in Hong Kong and bought the Octopus card when it was issued in September 1997. At first it was only for public transport, but that alone made it a must-have. Hong Kong Tramways estimated that they save 8% of their operating costs by not having to deal with coins. Buses and the MTR (the tube) also saw benefits.

Because the card was ubiquitous, restaurants and other shops began offering it as a payment gateway. Octopus began offering AAVS: an automatic value-add scheme where the card tops itself up at the touch-processor. I run most daily payments through my Octopus card. It's so popular that at least 12 million cards have been issued--in a city with a population of 7 million (many retired Hong Kongers live across the border).

The systems based on Sony's FeliCa, as noted, and to my knowledge hasn't been compromised--I believe the Oyster technology was at one point. Octopus cards can be customized to provide access to carparks and schools as well.

It's worth noting that the MTRC (operators of the MTR and light-rail system KCR) is privatized and runs at a profit. But they're diversified into property, so they do more than just carry five million passengers daily.

Hong Kong needs this type of technology to handle passenger-loads, but eliminating cash-handling benefits both customers and shop employees. It's an impressive system.

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