The Nanfang / Blog

One smartcard to rule them all: Guangdong, HK team up to offer unified travel card

Posted: 07/3/2012 9:00 am

The days of filling your wallet unnecessarily with smartcards is about to end. Frequent public transport users around the Pearl River Delta will know how frustrating it is to carry multiple cards for our various well-connected public transport systems.

That is all about to change.

Starting July 18, Guangdong and Hong Kong are launching a new joint-smartcard eliminating the need for as many as four cards, uniting and simplifying the means of travel across the Delta.

The Nanfang
 told you last year how transport officials were set on a path to integrate Guangzhou’s Yang Cheng Tong card with Hong Kong’s Octopus and the Macau Pass card, and now it’s finally happening.

The new smartcard has been developed to hold separate RMB and HKD accounts for each area, so users can’t start using their HKD for mainland travel nor the other way around.  It will initially be available for use in Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Users will be able to swipe for buses, taxis, ferries and metro services, and of course be able to purchase all manner of sundries in Hong Kong using the card.

The new card will cost RMB 80 or HKD 98 but users will still have to top up their card as it will come with no initial credit. No word, yet, on whether holders of individual smartcards will be able to transfer their balance over to the new card.

Life of Guangzhou has an interesting comment from a provincial official who provides more detail on the joint-card scheme:

According to Liu Xiaohua, deputy director of Guangdong Communications Department, as the LNT card will be accessible in cities like Shenzhen and Dongguan at the end of the year, the new card can be used throughout the province and Hong Kong, and even in Macau in 2013.

For those eager to get their hands on the new card sooner, a run of 3,000 limited edition cards will be available from July 2 for RMB 238 or HKD 298.

The new Guangdong-Hong Kong smartcard (c) Life of Guangzhou


Hong Kong’s Octopus cards to be accepted around the PRD (minus Shenzhen)

Posted: 08/24/2011 9:05 am

Anyone who has spent any time in Hong Kong usually comes to appreciate the city’s Octopus card payment system. It’s an electronic card that was originally introduced as a convenient way to pay for public transportation, such as the Star Ferry, buses, the MTR and others. But since going live in the late 1990s, it has expanded to become a primary way Hong Kong people pay for any small-ticket items at shops such as 7-Eleven, Starbucks, vending machines, and even supermarkets. Simply by holding the card over a scanner, the cash is deducted. Other cities have tried to introduce similar systems, but none have become quite as ubiquitous as the Octopus card.

Guangzhou and Shenzhen both have electronic payment cards that are primarily used for transportation. However, Hong Kong’s Standard reports today that Octopus will be rolled out to a number of cities in the PRD next year by combining its functions with existing electronic payment systems:

Octopus Cards and Guangdong peer GDPass Payment Network will develop, by next year, the card for use in Guangzhou, Foshan, Jiangmen, Shanmei, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Shenzhen is not included as it is currently using TransCard.

The new card will have electronic purses for Hong Kong dollars and yuan. Top-ups can only be done locally for the Hong Kong purse and in Guangdong for the yuan.

It can be used on various modes of transportation and at retail outlets that currently accept Octopus cards and the Lingnan Tong that GDPass employs.

This is excellent news for those who make their way around the PRD and into Hong Kong. The one glaring omission is Shenzhen, which has been rumored to be teaming up with Octopus for many years, but it’s never quite come to fruition.

As far as we’re concerned, the less fumbling around with stained 1 kuai notes, different currencies and different cards, the better.

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