Hong Kong's Octopus Transit Card to Support Apple Pay Later This Year [Updated]

Update - Jul 11: Octopus Cards Limited has now confirmed that customers will be able to use their Octopus cards on their iPhone or Apple Watch for transit and retail payment with Apple Pay later this year. Original story below.




iOS 13 may come with built-in support for Hong Kong's Octopus contactless payment system, if a few lines of code discovered on Apple's servers are any indication.

Tech blog Ata Distance spotted the code snippet in Apple's online JSON-based Apple Pay pass identifier (link now removed), which shows references to Octopus in iOS 13.

The discovery also tallies with specific references to Octopus on Apple Pay in the iOS 13 beta, according to the Japan-focused site.

Octopus is based on the same FeliCa NFC standard used for the Japanese Suica card, and is used by the vast majority of Hong Kong residents for making transit payments and retail transactions.


Originally launched in 1997 as a physical contactless card, the FeliCa-based version made the transition to electronic payment solution when the company unveiled Smart Octopus for Samsung Pay in December 2017.

The exclusive deal with Samsung left Apple Pay users without a way to take advantage Smart Octopus, despite it being technically compatible with iPhone 7 and later models, so today's find should make for good news for those hoping to digitize the popular transit and retail payment card, which should also support Apple's Express Transit mode.

iOS 13 for iPhone is expected to be released in the fall.

Related Roundups: Apple Pay, iOS 13, iPadOS


Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
4 weeks ago

Tim Apple will do anything and everything to suck up to China.

And what does this have to do with China?
Rating: 10 Votes
Avatar
4 weeks ago

Tim Apple will do anything and everything to suck up to China.


...Hong Kong is not China... especially in this case with regards to octopus...
Rating: 5 Votes
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4 weeks ago
Best news in iOS 13 for the 7 million Hong Kong people.

Tim Apple will do anything and everything to suck up to China.

As a person living in Hong Kong, it will be a major convenience to me, and sorry I do not agree with your "unwise" comment. I'm being very polite here.
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By the way, in the code, it says minimum WatchOS version is 999.0, does it mean that it will only support the iPhone but not Apple Watch?
Rating: 4 Votes
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2 weeks ago

Pretty much just download the WeChat (you can’t find a person without WeChat on their phone). If you ever shop on Taobao, you will need Alipay anyway.

Most of these apps are preinstalled on phone anyway. There is no hunting for the app. After two or three tries, it will become second nature.

If you living in a big city, I guess you can find a POS machine. If you living in a small town, like where I am living, there are lots of places doesn’t even have any POS machines.

I also need to mention that, even if you go with cashless, you need carrying you wallet anyway. Highly likely you gonna walk in a store that does’t accept taps. Even with tap, there is hard limit on transactions ($100 in Canada).

With QR code, all I need is my phone. No wallet, no nothing

Your statement is correct in Mainland China. But Hong Kong is a special administrative region. Octopus card has been well established in HK for twenty years. All public transit and many local businesses accept Octopus card. There are more places accepting Octopus than QR code payment in HK. By having octopus in Apple Pay, I believe the market share of Apple Pay in HK will significantly increases.

There are several advantages of octopus card when comparing to AliPay or WeChat Pay. As octopus is an offline payment and utilities NFC, the speed is much faster to QR code payment. With credit card auto-recharge, many people don’t even need to recharge their octopus card manually.

Last but not least, it is about politics. Although AliPay and WeChat Pay HK are gaining market share in HK, but there are still a lot of HK people refuse to use Chinese mobile payment platform due to privacy concern and distrust to Mainland China.
Rating: 4 Votes
Avatar
2 weeks ago

So in other words WeChat Pay and Alipay are just the CurrentC for Asia. You guys should be against this! QR codes? Direct access to bank account? It literally is CurrentC!

Sheesh Apple Pay wins in every way compared to this.


The major difference is that CurrentC was only for specific big brand name stores, which is exactly the places where QR code based payment method isn't needed. The QR code method is a lot more viable financially to smaller stores and temporary booths.
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And the Bay Area has 7.75million people, it’s where Apple is from, and no sign of Clipper Card coming to iPhone! >:-(


But less than 1% of that 7.75 million people regularly use any of the public transit methods supported by Clipper Card. While in Hong Kong, that percentage is over 95%, at least.
Rating: 2 Votes
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2 weeks ago

The processing fee is too high for a lot of the small stores or booths, their normal daily profit margin likely cannot cover that processing fee.
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A lot of small restaurants and small grocery stores in the US don't accept card payments for amount lower than $20.

$20??? Here in AZ I have never seen it more than $5. Where are you going where it’s $20? I think there are laws that limit it to $10 and in some states outright illegal. Even at the stores where it’s $5 as mentioned, they just charged 10 extra cents which, who cares? Still more convenient than paying $3 to pull out cash.
Rating: 1 Votes
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2 weeks ago

Dude. You need realize in Asia, at least developing countries, Point of Sale machine and credit card are not as prevalent as in United Stats and Canada.

If you go to any street vendors, restaurants or night market, there is no way vendors have point of sale machine. QR code scan is great way for vendor to collect money and pave the way for mobile payments.

I don’t understand the hate of QR code. It is easy to setup and easy to use. It allows small vendors not collecting cash, it allows easy way for mobile payment become mainstream.

In fact, I can say cashless society is more likely in China than United States of America.

I live in the US, in Arizona in all places, which isn’t exactly the epitome of tech. I haven’t used cash in over 10 years. I don’t have any cash in my wallet.

The only time I touch cash is when people give me cash for various reasons like Christmas and Birthdays. Even this is stopping with people giving me Visa gift cards or even just texting me the money.

The US is pretty much already cashless for people who don’t carry any cash like myself. I guess a lot of this is due to Square. Most street vendors in the US have Square or similar devices to accept cards/Apple Pay. And rental bikes (Chinese companies at that!) etc accept cards in the US.

The hate with QR codes is that it isn’t well integrated. You have to hunt for an app, find the app, open the app, go through steps to pay. And then the whole direct access to the bank account think without a card as a middle man with consumer protections.

If Asia had a “Square” (Japan does have Square but their not china), I bet WeChat and those other companies with QR code wouldn’t have been as popular.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
2 weeks ago

So in other words WeChat Pay and Alipay are just the CurrentC for Asia. You guys should be against this! QR codes? Direct access to bank account? It literally is CurrentC!

Sheesh Apple Pay wins in every way compared to this.


Dude. You need realize in Asia, at least developing countries, Point of Sale machine and credit card are not as prevalent as in United Stats and Canada.

If you go to any street vendors, restaurants or night market, there is no way vendors have point of sale machine. QR code scan is great way for vendor to collect money and pave the way for mobile payments.

I don’t understand the hate of QR code. It is easy to setup and easy to use. It allows small vendors not collecting cash, it allows easy way for mobile payment become mainstream.

In fact, I can say cashless society is more likely in China than United States of America.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
4 weeks ago
This is pretty cool. But octopus is super fast. I wonder if it’ll be as responsive as the physical card.
Here in Philly, we have “septa key”. Absolute garbage. I hope they improve the speed to even get a little closer to octopus.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
2 weeks ago

There are so many limitations on Octopus card, it does not compete with WeChat Pay and Alipay at all.

WeChat Pay and Alipay are connected to your bank account, so there is no need to charge money to the Octopus card. And there is limitation on how frequently you can recharging Octopus card.

WeChat and Alipay post payment right way from your bank account, where Octopus card need to wait for certain time for payment to be posted.

Overall, WeChat Pay and Alipay are still more convenient.

So in other words WeChat Pay and Alipay are just the CurrentC for Asia. You guys should be against this! QR codes? Direct access to bank account? It literally is CurrentC!

Sheesh Apple Pay wins in every way compared to this.
Rating: 1 Votes
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