The OCTOPUS system - Contactless smart cards - Hong Kong

By News Editor / Updated: 02 Sep 2014

“Octopus system” is a contact-less smart card (CSC) system for the fare payment across all forms of public transport using one single ticket. It is a fast, reliable, cost-effective and convenient method of public transport (PT) fare payment and collection.

Hong Kong is situated in the southeast coast of China and it houses nearly 7 million people in an area of only 1.100 km². Being one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Hong Kong is also one of the wealthiest cities.

The high quality of the PT network of Hong Kong is well known since many years. In order to enhance the attractiveness of PT services, a number of PT operators decided to establish a joint venture company (Octopus Cards Limited) in 1994 for the purpose of introducing a fully integrated ticketing system. After a development and trial phase of 3 years, the Octopus smart card system was introduced in 1997, allowing travellers to use six different PT modes with only one single card and eliminating the hassles of finding the exact change for individual journeys. The integrated ticketing system and the contactless smart card have been a big step towards seamless intermodal PT services in Hong Kong.

In 2000 the Octopus system has extended from a transport payment system to a general e-payment system for small-value transactions. Besides its basic function as a means of payment for the use of PT modes, the Octopus card now includes payment applications for parking, vending machines, pay phones, convenience shops, private housing estates, fast food restaurants, leisure facilities. Easy to use and versatile, the Octopus card is rapidly becoming the preferred method of payment for a number of different applications. The fact that the number of Octopus cards as well as transactions that take place each day across the networks of the service providers of the Octopus system has steadily increased over the last years, show the high degree of acceptance of the Octopus system amongst the citizens.

The introduction of the Octopus system in Hong Kong has offered much greater convenience to users and service providers can enjoy its many operational and financial benefits. Some of the major benefits are:

  • Users can easily use the entire PT network and change between modes without thinking of buying new tickets. Cash handling is reduced.
  • Increase in public transport usage and revenue through enhanced user-friendliness of the system.
  • Secure, efficient, flexible and reliable means of revenue collection.
  • Reduced costs. Reduction of maintenance costs and elimination of card recycling costs. Economies of scale achieved by the sharing of a common system infrastructure by all participating operators


Results and conclusions

Octopus has come a long way since its debut in Hong Kong over a decade ago. Today, 95% of people in Hong Kong aged 16 to 65 uses Octopus to travel, shop and dine.
Over 1 million customers currently enjoy the hassle-free Automatic Add Value Service provided by over 20 financial institutions, ensuring that they never run out of value. Octopus users can also reload manually with cash at thousands of locations all over town.

In addition, over 2.4 million customers have registered for the widely adopted Octopus Rewardsprogramme, allowing them to earn Reward$ regardless of their payment means, and redeem them as cash, across over 20 participating merchants.

Further information

Collective passenger transport
Hong Kong
Alexio Picco
fares - fare structure
measures - smard cards
planning - customer satisfaction
planning - ticketing
Microsoft Office document icon octopus_hong_kong.doc595 KB
27 Nov 2011
02 Sep 2014