Recently I have been doing a lot of work with one of my financial clients which required a lot of research on my part. Not only did I research the US market, but I wanted to know what was happening in other countries. I quickly found that some places have special ways of paying - including the Oyster Card in London, Octopus Card in Hong Kong, along with many more. These cards allow people to pay for things such as the subway, buses, parking meters, vending machines, and even some small shops. I will spare you the details of the Octopus Card and the history of it; you can read it on Wikipedia. It is important to note that it did launch in 1997.
A few weeks back when I decided to take a holiday to Asia I made it a priority of mine to understand how the locals use the Octopus Card in Hong Kong. The first place I decided to observe people using it in the wild was at the MTR (they don't call it the subway here).
The Octopus Card looks and feels like a credit card. You have to purchase the actual card for $150HKD ($19.34USD) and preload it with a minimum of $50HKD ($6.45USD). While doing my research I discovered that you can purchase a Octopus Watch along with other items and use it in the same method. I went to purchase my card, and I was happily surprised that they had Octopus Watches available. So naturally I decided to get one. The Citikeys Adult 311 was only $348KHD ($44.87USD). It was the least expensive adult watch they had.
I have never been more excited to pay for something in my life. I made my wife record me as I tapped my new watch on the turnstile and passed right through. It felt amazing, quick, and seamless.
Of course, that was just the start. I quickly remembered that I could use it elsewhere, such as one of the many 7-Elevens they have here. It was just a simple tap and pay (or touch and go as they call it).
It didn't always go as smoothly as I would have liked, but I am pretty sure that was my fault for being too excited and trying to go in the turnstile too fast.
Then I spent all my money and had to reload the watch.
This station required me to take off my watch, but I have noticed that other places I did not have to do this.
Late one night we deiced to get some Pineapple Buns because our friend Tiffany recommended that we try it while we are over here. To my surprise I could pay with my Octopus Watch. I either forgot to tell her that I wanted to pay with it or she mostly likely didn't know that I wanted to use my watch as a payment method.
As a fashion accessory it is not the most glamours, it's pretty basic. I have yet to see anyone pay with a watch. I am predicting that once Americans start paying with the Apple Watch there will be a shift over here. I also predict because of this there will be a lot more options for the Octopus Watch.
I know I have spent most of the time talking about the watch, but I want to let you know how much easier it is to have a Octopus Card here. Today we were boarding a ferry to Cheung Chau for a day trip, and we quickly realized how important this payment method is. There were three rows for Octopus card holders and one row for people that needed to buy a ticket for the ferry. The people that were in the ticket line either could not afford a card or were not from here. Needless to say that line moved really slowly. I would highly suggest getting a Octopus Card if you are staying more that 3 days here.
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