Mobile payments

Handy or ‘nonsensical’? Octopus to roll out stick for Hong Kong drivers to reach card readers

Move is to increase payment convenience, but some drivers think it will only cause more delays

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 7:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 7:30am

Hong Kong drivers having difficulties reaching Octopus card readers at payment booths for parking or tunnel tolls will soon be offered a helping hand, but not all of them are applauding.

The contactless payment company is launching an extendable wand with a tip shaped like a palm, to help people from the driver’s seat tap their cards on hard-to-reach scanners.

The palm end of the wand functions like an Octopus card to complete transactions once it is tapped onto readers.

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“Drivers can enjoy a hassle-free payment experience from now on, as they no longer need to worry about alighting from their vehicles if they are not right next to readers to tap their Octopus card for payments,” a spokesman for the company said.

The wand can be used anywhere where Octopus cards are accepted.

But some drivers did not think this would come in handy.

“I only had to open my car door maybe once or twice in a million times to reach the card reader because I miscalculated by approach,” long-time local driver and planning expert Paul Zimmerman said.

“[This is a] completely nonsense apparatus and will be counterproductive [because] people are going to buy this and fiddle with it, resulting in queues.”

Another Hong Kong driver, who declined to be named, was also not enthusiastic about the product. She has 15 years of experience driving on the city’s streets.

“I would never use that gadget; I think it is ridiculous. I think it would take me longer to fiddle with that thing than just to lean out of the window,” she said.

The wand will cost HK$128 and will be available on November 2 at Circle K convenience shops or on the Octopus online shop. No deposit is required and there will be no initial stored value. It can be topped up like any Octopus card.