Octopus extends its reach

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2006, 12:00am

Award Winner Octopus

Many know that feeling of panic when you board a bus and discover that you have no change to pay the bus fare.

The introduction of the Octopus card in 1997 changed all that. Commuters also no longer had to fish their MTR stored-value tickets out of their wallets every time they took a train. With the automatic add-value service, you never need to take it out of your wallet at all.

Octopus applications have now extended beyond public transport to car parks, fast food outlets, convenience stores, supermarkets, vending machines, pay phones, leisure facilities and schools. The cards have also been used for non-payment systems such as access control. About 95 per cent of Hong Kong people aged 16 to 65 have Octopus cards and more than 13 million are in circulation. More than 9.2 million transactions are processed through Octopus every day, amounting to $25 billion a year. An Octopus survey at the end of 2004 showed that 97 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the service.

Octopus was affirmed by this year's Awards for Industries, which made the company a winner in its Innovation and Creativity category.

Octopus Cards chief executive Eric Tai said continuous innovation was one of the company's core values.

'It is our mission to make life easier by applying innovative ideas through secure and robust technology. We want to make our product part of the public's daily habit,' he said.

'You see how people use the Octopus without any facial expressions. It's because they don't have to think before using it. Using the Octopus becomes a muscle memory instead of an intellectual memory. Our products become invisible to them. This is our success. We always have to be thoughtful to the public and our clients. We have to think of ways to better serve them, at the same time looking closely at the newest technology and seeing if we can adopt it into our products.'