It’s confirmed, the much-rumored Apple Pay support for Hong Kong’s Octopus transit card system is coming later this year. It was first rumored last month that support would come alongside the release of iOS 13.
Octopus, which first became available back in 1997, is one of the world’s most successful cash transit cards. The contactless “smart card” is considered the forerunner of modern reloadable electronic payment solutions. Initially a physical tap-to-pay card, the service expanded to smartphones with Smart Octopus for Samsung Pay in 2017.
In addition to subways, buses, trams, and ferries, Octopus is also accepted in numerous other locations, including supermarkets, pharmacies, vening machines, coffee shops, and more.
A statement from Octopus makes it official that Apple Pay is coming to Octopus cards:
Committed to providing innovative Octopus payment services to meet customers’ diverse payment needs, Octopus Cards Limited is excited to announce that customers will be able to use their Octopus on their iPhone or Apple Watch for transit and retail payment with Apple Pay later this year. More details will be shared soon.
An exclusivity agreement has previously restricted Smart Octopus to Samsung handsets. However, the system is based on the FeliCa standard, so it is technically compatible with iPhone 7 and newer Apple devices. So things will change in the fall with the release of iOS 13.
Ata Distance reports Octopus’ Apple Pay device profile is identical to that of Suica, meaning users can generate and manage new cards without leaving the Wallet app on iPhone 7/7 Plus purchased in Japan (models A1779/A1785), iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS/XS Plus, iPhone XR set up with Face ID or Touch ID, and Apple Watch Series 3 and later.
Apple uses Express Transit for its transit card integration, which bypasses the usual Face ID or Touch ID authentication requirements, allowing faster payments by using an iPhone or Apple Watch at an NFC terminal.
Express Transit is now available in Japan, Beijing, Shanghai and parts of New York City. London is coming soon.