The Octopus card company has launched a new feature, “O! ePay”, with which users can connect their cards to their mobile phones to enable new payment and money transfer functions.

Once users have downloaded the O! ePay app on Android or iOS devices, they can set up an account and link their Octopus cards to it.

They can use O! ePay accounts to transfer money in and out of their bank account to their cards, top up the cards, and conduct person-to-person payments. However, the first two functions are only available on Android devices, as iOS devices do not have the required near field communication (NFC) component yet. The company will offer an external card reader for iOS devices later this year, it said.

Photo: Octopus.

The Standard Chartered bank is currently the only bank partnered with the service, so iOS users would have to inject money into their accounts via a Standard Chartered bank account.

‘Going Dutch’

The company said the new features allow friends to split bills easily between them using the person-to-person payment function. It also allows users top up cards on the go, when they are not close to any top up spots.

“Octopus now allows person-to-person payment, that means people cannot say ‘I don’t have change’ or ‘I’ll pay next time’ any more?” IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok wrote on his Facebook account.

“But first and foremost you need to have NFC,” Mok added, commenting on availablity of some functions on devices.

Photo: Octopus.

To register for the service, users must be at least 18 years old or above, hold a valid Hong Kong Identity Card, and be:

  • a user of the Octopus Automatic Add Value Service;
  • or a holder of a Personalised Octopus;
  • or a customer of the Standard Chartered bank.

The registration process also requires users to provide personal particulars such as birthday, gender, nationality, a scan of their Hong Kong Identity Card, proof of address, phone number and email address.

The maximum account balance of an O! ePay Account is HK$3,000. The aggregated amount of payment transactions cannot exceed HK$3,000 in any two consecutive days.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.