Hong Kong’s convenient cashless payment system, the Octopus card, just got miniaturized! The Octopus originated for use as a payment option for Hong Kong’s subway system, the MTR. It has since grown to cover most forms of transportation and small purchases. You can use your Octopus card at places like convenience stores, parking meters, fast food outlets, and supermarkets.
The Octopus has been available in several forms already, including the standard card, which fits into a wallet, and the Octopus watch, which is concealed within a normal wristwatch. The latest incarnation is a key-chain sized Octopus that makes it even more portable.
The campaign posters in the MTR advertising it seem to target the youth audience with a trendy couple shown hanging out on the street, their mini Octopus cards displayed almost as fashion accessories. A close-up view shows the girl’s handbag revealing her Octopus hooked onto a chain. Since the system works by radio waves, there’s no need to insert it into a reader. She can simply touch her Octopus near the sensor to use it.[photopress:Octopus_Card_Hong_Kong.jpg,full,pp_image]
The product looks cool to me, the only caveat is that you can’t use the standard add-value machines in the MTR stations to recharge them. Instead, it’s easy enough to go to a customer service counter in the MTR, 7-11, Circle K, or one of Hong Kong’s supermarket chains to add value.
Another difference is that once sold, the cards are not returnable. This differs from the original Octopus card system, where you would purchase the card with a $50 HKD deposit fee that could be reclaimed if you turned the card in. The Octopus mini retails for $68 outright, with no initial stored value.