Barring Some Issues, This Could Become the Most Used Mobile Payment System in the World by Penetration

Last year, we wrote an article on how the Octopus Payment system – which has the best connectivity in Hong Kong and covers over more than 13,000 retailers in the region – does not have a mobile component to it. Now, Octopus Cards Limited will be launching the Octopus Mobile Reader for its iOS device users on July 27, 2016, as a further function enhancement for Octopus O! ePay. The main objective of the launch is to enable these users to enjoy other Octopus online services via the Octopus app. This launch is assumed to be a counterattack on Apple Pay which went live in the city last week. Users will need to buy the Bluetooth-enabled card reader which will enable the pairing of Octopus cards to their iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad.

The Octopus Card was introduced in Hong Kong back in 1997. The contactless smart card was initially conceived to allow commuters to pay for public transport systems, but since its inception, the card’s usage has expanded widely. The card can now be used at over 13,000 retail outlets and 6,000 service providers, right from eateries, convenience stores, and supermarkets to vending machines, kiosks, parking machines, etc.

In October 2013, Octopus Cards Ltd. launched an Octopus mobile SIM in conjunction with Sony and PCCW. These SIM cards are meant for NFC-enabled smartphones, which enable such phones to act as Octopus cards and also settle payments for online purchases. In February 2014, Octopus launched a new service enabling cardholders to pay for goods on Alibaba’s e-commerce website ‘Taobao’ by using an Android app registered with the Octopus card. Over $1.3 million worth of Taobao transactions were made in the first month itself. Back in August 2012, Octopus had launched the OctoCheck app in order to allow smartphone users to keep track of their Octopus transaction records. The app was only available for Android-based NFC-enabled smartphones.

Priced at HK$228, the Octopus mobile reader was available for sale from yesterday (July 27) at all 7-Eleven convenience stores at MTR stations. Apple has a very secure and rigid technology for its mobile payments and digital wallet. This is the reason why iOS users will be required to include the personal card reader to use Octopus Card.

The reader enables fund transfers between O! ePay accounts and registered Octopus users. Users will be able to use funds in their O! ePay accounts to top up the Octopus for their children, domestic helpers or for personal use at any time; or to transfer funds from the Octopus to O! ePay accounts to enable person-to-person (P2P) payments. However, the app does not support ­contactless payments in stores using an Apple device.

In addition, through the "Octopus" App, iOS device users can also enjoy the Octopus Online Payment Service at designated online merchants (e.g., Taobao), check Octopus' remaining value and the latest transaction records, perform Automatic Add Value Service activation, and collect refunds.

Launched earlier in April this year, O! ePay is the first Octopus network-based mobile payment service of OCL. With the Octopus Mobile Reader, besides the instant P2P function already available, iOS users will be able to fully enjoy the O! ePay service by linking up with the extensive acceptance of the Octopus.

About Octopus Card Limited:

Octopus is an electronic payment system that uses a contactless smart card known as ‘Octopus’ which includes Octopus cards and products. Octopus can be used to make payments on public transport and at a wide range of retailers and facilities. Users simply hold their Octopus over a reader, and the correct amount will be deducted from their Octopus automatically without the hassle of cash. For some residential and commercial buildings, Octopus is also used as access control.

For more information, click here.