Octopus Cards Ltd., operator of Hong Kong’s leading smartcard payment system, joined hands with Samsung Electronics to launch an e-wallet service last week.
A physical Octopus card can be used to pay for goods at stores and vending machines. It can also be used for local transportation and parking services as well as getting in and out of residential estates and offices.
But since Dec. 14, Octopus users can do away with the physical card. Through the installation of the Samsung Pay app, the Octopus can be installed on a Samsung smartphone, allowing it to function like a physical card. (Initially, the app is limited to a few latest Samsung handset models such as Note 8, S8 and S8 Plus, but will be expanded to cover more Samsung models at a later stage.)
Octopus has been around for two decades, but has been functioning basically through the physical card. Other than the Octopus mobile SIM card launched a few years ago, this tap-and-go e-wallet service is the first major breakthrough.
Will Apple also partner with Octopus in the future? That depends how much the tech giant values the Hong Kong market.
The Octopus card adopts Sony’s FeliCa contactless card technology. The technology has also been adopted in Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and mainland China. The iPhone 7 launched in Japan last year also comes with FeliCa chips.
Similar chips are said to be installed on iPhone 8 and iPhone X too.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 20
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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