Hong Kong Subway Operator and Majority Owner of Octopus Pursues QR Code-Based Transit Payments

NFC TIMES EXCLUSIVE Insight – Hong Kong’s MTR Corp., which runs the city’s subway system, next month will accept tenders from technology and payments providers for a QR code-based fare collection service that will serve as an alternative to its much-used contactless Octopus card.

The plans by MTR take on increased significance given that the subway and commuter rail operator is the majority shareholder in Octopus Holdings, one of the world’s first major contactless fare collection systems, which launched in 1997. Octopus is used by nearly 100% of people living in Hong Kong, who tap it for 14 million daily transactions, valued at HK$190 million (US$24.2 million)–both for transit and retail payments.

MTR in late spring published an invitation for companies wanting to be prequalified to submit tenders for the project. The transit operator is looking for one vendor to fund and build the QR code-based electronic-payments system at automated fare collection gates. MTR also will accept proposals from multiple payments services providers and networks to enable customers to pay transit fares using QR codes.

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