Feeds

Hong Kong underground gets pay-by-bonk

Octopus walks where Oyster fears to tread

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

The Octopus card, used to pay for tubes, buses, ferries and trams in Hong Kong, is now available as an NFC app for download onto an operator SIM, making pay-by-bonk a reality in the Chinese administrative area.

The app will only run on a handful of Sony phones, and NFC player Gemalto is providing 5,000 new NFC-enabled SIM cards, but as the app is simply an instance of the already-popular (FeliCa-based*) Octopus card, the supporting infrastructure is already in place so users can top up their cards – and spend money – in thousands of locations.

Octopus is everything London's Oyster card tried to be, but while Oyster has been hugely successful for travellers, Octopus successfully broke out of its niche and is used to pay for taxies, snacks, and entertainment venues. Of course, it's all pre-paid, which makes processing – and porting to a phone – much easier.

Attempts to take Oyster out of the transport system have failed entirely, not least because the pay-by-bonk functionality promised by Oyster is already built into the vast majority of UK credit and debit cards, with use climbing steadily, if slowly.

Transport for London would like to replace Oyster with normal credit cards, getting rid if the prepaid element entirely. That would mean one tapping a credit or debit card on the gate and be billed for the journey. On London buses that's happening now, but for the tube the process of checking the balance and deducting the variable fare still take too long (up to a second, compared to TfL's target of under 300ms).

Putting Oyster onto an NFC phone would be simple, easier than the FeliCa-based Octopus, but there's no real interest in doing so.

But in Hong Kong there's no reason not to, and the question isn't why Octopus has been put into an NFC phone but why it has taken so very long to happen. ®

* FeliCa is a Japanese contactless payment system comparable to NFC, only much older and successful. The NFC standard was expanded to encompass it but really it's quite different from NFC. Read more here.

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Brit celebs' homes VANISH from Google's Street View
Tony Blair's digs now a Tone-y Blur
Virgin Media goes titsup AGAIN. The cause? Yet MORE DNS strife
ISP refuses to comment on why outages keep happening
10Gbps over crumbling COPPER: Boffins cram bits down telco wire
XG-FAST tech could finesse fiber connections
ISPs haul GCHQ into COURT over dragnet interwebs snooping
'Exploitation of network infrastructure is unlawful,' says co-claimant
What the world needs now is... a Bluetooth-enabled baby's dummy
Oh NO! Temp-sensor pacifier just got dunked in my tea
BT slapped down by BSkyB over O2 broadband 'switch off' porkies
Ad watchdog tells one-time state monopoly to behave
Siri, did we just take a hit in that voice-recog patent fight?
Yes, Apple, you did, says this Beijing court
Islamic terror peril hits US giants' phone wallets
'We have made the decision to rebrand' says ISIS Isis
BlackBerry knocks Google's KNOX LOCK PICK for Android
John Chen disses Samsung's security solution
Silent Circle takes on Skype, Viber, mobile telcos with crypto-VoIP
But, hey ... we cut the roaming charges, mumble mobile carriers
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem
Building your ideal BladeSystem infrastructure solution begins with eight simple steps, outlined in this whitepaper.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Build a Business Case: Developing Custom Apps
In this whitepaper learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.