New challenge for Octopus

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 21 Apr 2021

Four stored value facility operators have been selected as platforms to launch the electronic consumption vouchers that the government promised citizens in the budget.

One of these is homegrown Octopus, which has a high rate of usage in the payment of small sums and among seniors.

Its group chief executive, Angus Lee Chun-ming, pledges to make good preparations to do the job well.

Instead of using mobile phone apps like other SVF platforms taking part, the Octopus card makes payment via contactless scanning, so it is easy to use, particularly for seniors.

The shortcoming is that it does not support the wider array of functions offered by phone apps.

Regardless, Lee notes that once registered, Octopus users may receive the e-vouchers through the existing public transport fare subsidy channel.

As nearly two million people are using this channel, Octopus is a convenient and competitive mechanism for distributing e-vouchers.

By handing out electronic spending vouchers, the government hopes to invigorate the consumer market while promoting e-payments - to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

So Octopus will use the opportunity to earnestly promote the use of its cards at markets, in taxis and among small and medium-sized businesses, Lee says.

Lee assumed responsibility for the e-vouchers distribution project right after he took over the helm from Sunny Cheung Yiu-tong in September.

At the same time, he leads Octopus' foray into the mainland and secured an agreement recently to make the card compatible with the mainland's T-Union e-payment standards.

Under this arrangement, Hongkongers can use the Octopus card to ride public transport in the mainland instead of having to get another payment card.

Setting up the back-end technical connection for this arrangement has been a rather complex endeavor though. So we see that Lee has been fighting one major battle after another from the moment he stepped into the CEO shoes.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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