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.
It’s not as good as it looks.
When I first saw it on the web site I thought it was just a mini Octopus card.
But it’s not. It’s hard plastic, and about 5mm thick. so it’s quite bulky, even if you do put it on your keychain or bag.
The ordinary Octopus card has the electronics all around the edges, but this one is circular, and 25mm across, probably the same one they used in the watch.
I carefully broke open the case, and you do need to be careful, and extracted the wafer thin circuitry. It’s glued in the middle.
I put in the back of my phone, which has a plastic cover on it, so the Octopus is always with me.
But you need to keep it away from the battery because there is some sort of interference when you try to use it.
I was going to laminate it, but realised that the heat would probably have melted the whole thing.
The reason I did this is because I drive my car to the office, and need an Octopus card when using car parks or meters, and leave the card in the car.
So I would often have to buy a new card it I was out and using the KCR.
Should I call it an Octophone, or a Phoneopus?
Wow! You’re quite a hacker! They probably were sitting on excess stock of the miniaturized watch interior and figured they’d make something of it. It’s interesting that you grafted it to your phone, since that is a current trend in micro payments. I like Phone-O-pus!
Man, if they were to make the O-card cuter and cutting-edge; should have gone further with better design and craftsmenship of the product. The keychain thing to me sounded like some sort of cheaply made toy kinda thing based on what Joel has said.
It’s not that bad. PLUS, people have done some cool things to make them cuter. I’ve heard that one of my friends has a tiny teddy bear that contains her Octopus mini inside! It’s great that people customize their own holders for them, plus H.K. is so entrepreneurial, that inventors are bound to come up with better ideas than the company would.
Glad to hear that. Keep the good work creative work going, inventors and designers!
It’s amazing how efficient ppl are in HK. Proud and loud woot woot
There are tons of other Octopus products and form factors out there, such as watches, plush toys, etc.; however unlike the Mini-Octopus, most are manufactured and sold by other companies (Octopus just checks them to make sure they function properly and then gives approval for commercial use).
I agree that HK people are very creative and entrepreneurial, it sounds like there are new ideas coming out all the time…so if you have an idea for a new Octopus product it’s definitely a possibility!
And mobile phones will happen when the HK market is ready for it.