View Full Version : There's a card that 'sotong' everything...

29-11-2002, 03:27 PM
Friday, November 29, 2002

<font size="+1">Far-reaching tentacles of Octopus Card</font>

MANY Hong Kong residents would have been bemused over the fuss kicked up in Malaysia about the decision to impose the Touch ’n Go card as the universal one for all highway toll payments.

While the situation is slightly different in this former British colony, the usage of a “touch and go” electronic payment system has been in existence for more than eight years.

It is almost impossible to find a Hong Kong resident without an Octopus Card. But the smartcard is more than just a pre-paid transport payment system.

The Octopus can be used in over 160 different outlets, including for public transport, parking, fast food outlets, super- markets, convenience stores, vending machines, access control systems and leisure facilities.

Students in some schools even pay for their meals and drinks at their canteens using the Octopus.

<img src="http://metro.thestar.com.my/news/2002/11/p55octopus.JPG" align="left"><--- The Octopus Card is used for travelling to eating at MacDonald's in Hong Kong.

The territory’s population make nearly seven million Octopus transactions each day, worth about HK$48mil (RM23.6mil).

But still, 90% of the transactions are for using the city’ public transportation network.

How does this card work? Like the Malaysian Touch ‘n Go, each Octopus card has a built-in microchip that contains an electronic purse and other applications. But unlike its Malaysian counterpart it is a “non-contact” smartcard.

Users simply place their cards close to a reader/writer machine that would automatically deduct the correct amount from the card.

The operating range is between 30mm and 100mm depending on the type of model being used.

What more, the user need not remove the card from his or her wallet or bag when using it. Simply touch the reader with bag/wallet and the machine would still be able to do its work.

The Octopus smartcard, manufactured by Sony, has a built-in IC chip and communicates with different fare processors through the use of a Sony card reader/writer.

The reader/writer is a device comprising of a controller board and an antenna.

It uses inductive Radio Frequency coupling to transmit power and data signals to the processors inside the smartcard.

Many Malaysian tourists are usually taken aback at the ease and varied usage of the Octopus.

“We use these cards for just about every form of transportation, except taxis and mini-buses, and don’t have to worry about having the correct change for the various fares.

“Each time we swipe the card, the fare is deducted from the card. The readouts warn us when our cards are near empty and when necessary, we add value to our cards at the Add Value machines located in the train stations,” said James Kong who spent three weeks in Hong Kong recently.

He said his wife found it “very funny” the first time she saw women placing their handbags strategically over the reader before exiting the Mass Transport Railway gates.

Sometimes, the card is displaced in the huge handbags and it is quite amusing to see these women twisting and turning their bags to find the correct angle to activate the reader/writer machine.

Kong, a businessman said his son even bought a burger from MacDonald’s using the card.

Users can store monetary value of between HK$50 (RM24.60) and HK$1,000 (RM492) on the card.

According to the people at Octopus Cards Limited, the next function for Octopus is as a security device.

Already, some 30,000 to 40,000 cards are used as main door access devices for residents of the many high-rise housing estates here.

The smart card was initiated by the MTR Corporation, which in 1993 took the lead in reviewing its fare collection technology and decided on the need for a non-contact technology.

A year later, five major public transport operators namely, the MTR, Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation, Kowloon Motor Bus, Citybus and the Hong Kong and Yaumati Ferry, established a joint venture, Octopus Cards Limited, to oversee the system’s development and implementation.


<font size="+1">Related thread in The Web Forum:
<a href="http://www.usj.com.my/bulletin/upload/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2881">Only Touch 'n Go card for all toll payment</a></font>

30-11-2002, 11:30 AM
A Tales of Two Cities...

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Fruitless search to top up card value

I have been using the Touch n Go service for many years. Since I seldom drove in the last two years, I hardly used it as I commute regularly on the LRT.

Two weeks ago, I went to KL Sentral to top up the store value. To my disappointment, the LRT station staff told me that the service was available only at Kelana Jaya Putraline station. Later that day, I went to Ampang Park Putraline station and asked the counter staff to confirm the place to top up the card value. He said I could do so at the Kelana Jaya and Masjid Jamek stations.

Since Ampang Park was near Masjid Jamek, I went there immediately but was shocked to find out that the Touch n Go service was down for the whole day.

The next day I went straight to the Kelana Jaya station to top up the value. The staff told me the service was only available from 4pm onwards.

I managed to get it done in Johor Baru along the PLUS highway at 7pm.

I hate waiting in long queues and try to avoid it by using Touch n Go. I use the card whenever I go outstation.

However, the service provider is not making things easy for the user. I deserve an explanation from the Touch n Go service provider.

Touch N Dead,
Kuala Lumpur.


30-11-2002, 12:01 PM
This topping up issue also drive me nuts.....my experience and opinion....

I used to top up my Touch 'N Go card at USJ 2 Petronas station - **helping** PLUS to clear the jam at the top up lane at the toll booths. Recently I can't do that anymore....the service personnel said I have to do it at the Plus toll booth.

I have sometime back commented on the company's business practices and was betting on them to improve their standards. Sadly, they have taken a step backwards with this latest practice......

Imagine someone - **YOUR CUSTOMER** - **WANTS** to **GIVE** you **CASH** and yet you make it **SO DIFFICULT** for your customer to do so! Go figure !

Touch 'N Go Fly Kite!

30-11-2002, 07:57 PM
That Octopus thing sounds like the system that is only very recently being introduced in Taipei. Not many people know about it yet and it's only being used for the subway/MRT and public bus. No idea how far the card will be utilized here yet. Big ideas are one thing, implementing them is another. Meanwhile the toll gates here are still using the prepaid coupon or cash service, collected by ladies working the toll booths . The prepaid coupons are a flat rate to be used throughout Taiwan's highways. Since they are just simple pieces of paper, there are lots of counterfeit ones around. Each time i go by those toll booths to the airport, I wonder why they havent done something about this old system. Now I read about the problems you have with Touch'n'Go and wonder if it's such a good idea to change things here.
People here are very slow when it comes to new things.

01-12-2002, 12:09 AM
For people trying to topup their TnG cards and don't want to wait in line at the topup lanes, just drive to the PLUS centres next to the major toll booths. There are usually ample free parking and almost no customers except for the odd one applying for a new card or the Tag (which is usually not available anyways).

FYI, the Subang centre is the best one to use because they accept credit cards while the one at USJ (and a most other smaller centres) accept only cash.

02-12-2002, 01:11 PM
syabas to the octopus card system. that's whats smard card and technology is meant to do - facilitate contemporary lifestyle.

sad to say the horrendous strategies in implementation of technology locally has more often than not encroached upon the pathway down memory lane and facilitated the enrichment of a few individuals rather than the convenience of the masses.

as in highway construction, everything seems to be an after thought.

sigh! still i'm not going to get myself within reach of some tentacles. neither am i gonna grant TnG some free cash flow. not unless they are really, really smart, and smarter than me.

02-12-2002, 06:09 PM
Just recently back from Hong Kong.

The best of the Octopus card is that if you a tourist and stay in HK less than 3 days, you can buy the Tourist card which will give you a free ride back to the airport on your way back using airport express. What I do not know is that I obtained a tourist card a year back, and top up the card, and they still give me a free ride back to the airport - via their airport express system - and I was puzzled for few days before figure out this.

All public transport is touch and go. No EXTRA charge for using the card vs. cash. Recall recently Subang Parade charge extra 20 cent for Touch n'go users, with only ONE exit. :( :( :(

When will this ease come to Malaysia? I wonder......

One card for all is really a great idea. But will extra greediness in play ... sorrylah.

09-02-2003, 06:58 PM
Saturday, February 08, 2003

<FONT SIZE="+1">No refund for electronic money</FONT>

We would like to refer to the above letter titled “Unfair to forfeit balance on lost card” by How Kim Chai published in Star Metro on Jan 13.

A lost or stolen Touch ’n Go card will not be refunded or replaced, in accordance with the terms and conditions governing the usage of the card.

Therefore, we strongly advise card users to keep the card safe.

We would like to highlight that Touch ’n Go is a prepaid electronic purse where the user has converted physical cash into electronic money.

As in all prepaid electronic schemes in the world, the operator does not refund or replace the electronic money if the card is damaged, lost or stolen. Other examples are Cash Card (Singapore), Octopus Card (Hong Kong), MEPS Cash (Malaysia) and telecommunications companies for their phone and prepaid mobile cards.

We do have the ability to suspend or “blacklist” the card. However, we do not suspend the card due to the following: As the scheme grows bigger, the “blacklist” has to be updated and downloaded continuously to all read & write devices located at all toll lanes, LRT stations, buses, parking etc.

This makes the system slow and defies the objective of a prepaid card for a fast and quick transaction during usage. Our current rate is 300 milliseconds per transaction.

Moreover, any unused money exceeding 24 months in a lost, stolen or idle Touch ’n Go card will be transferred to Bank Negara Malaysia under Unclaimed Monies Act in accordance with Bafia.

Gabriel Manickam,
Senior Executive,
Retail Customer Department,
Touch 'n Go Careline Centre.


13-02-2003, 09:57 AM
Thursday, February 13, 2003

<FONT SIZE="+1">Help protect consumers</FONT>

With reference to the letter in Star Metro on Feb 8 titled <a href="http://www.usj.com.my/bulletin/upload/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3001">"No refund for electronic money”</a>, I would like to voice my dissatisfaction with the answer provided by Touch ‘n Go careline center.

The system operator mentioned that they have to continuously download all information to their devices located at all toll lanes and it would slow down the system.

I am very sure that from time to time there will be updates on the software that has to be downloaded to the system when required.

If there is a response time issue, this means either they don’t have sufficient hardware or software that could speed up the system.

This is not the customer's concern.

I am very sure that there are a lot of people who will leave their Touch ‘n Go card in their vehicle. Based on statistics of stolen cars, there could well be millions lost.

I am also very sure that keeping the card in the car is not the best solution but it is however the most convenient one.

I disagree with the answer provided by the system operator. It should protect the consumer.

As I work in the IT industry, I am very sure that information updating can be done. If not, there could be some system performance issue on the part of the operator.

For example, it would be very simple to block a card. Daily there should be a download of a block-card list to all the toll-gates simultaneously at a non-peak hour.

If anyone reports a lost card then, it will be blocked at that particular hour. It will minimise the consumer's loss.

I am very sure that downloading text information, for example just the tag's electronic number, is not a huge file to download even if we do a dial-up.

With video cameras operating round the clock daily at all toll-gates, if a blocked card is used at any one of them, it will make it easier to catch the thief who may have stolen the card or the car.

The point of having an electronic prepaid card is for convenience and security.

Subang Jaya.