13 Apr 2006

hong kong octopus card related interview

i came across this interesting interview with the technical director of octopus card ltd. which is the contactless payment system in hong kong. very interesting information:

on conflicting rfid cards
"my own building access-control card conflicts with the Octopus. We use the ISO 14443 standard ...my solution: I put the two cards on different sides of my wallet and open it to use whichever card is needed. If the radio frequencies [used] are close to each other, you can have a conflict."

on near field communications
"One technology currently under development is near field communication, or NFC—it’s a joint venture between Sony and Philips."

i always assumed that rfid was just a subset of near field communications, but here he seems to be pitching it as something different.

on other competitors
"CWHK: Who are your competitors?
Kam: Number one? Cash."

yeah of course, hk is a pretty cash and credit card heavy society. i don't know what the spread is, but credit card's are very aggressive in hong kong, most credit cards offer heaps of kickbacks and reward points. more often than not, families have a big portion of their household appliances bought with credit card rewards.

on future linux card readers
"Right now, our card-readers are based on Sony technology and we have about 50,000 throughout Hong Kong. But we have been working on a new model for the last two years that will eventually replace all the readers in the field. The new reader is developed by Octopus engineers in Hong Kong, and runs on an embedded Linux OS."

that is pretty cool, they're going to be using linux os on the embedded reader. mainly for cost and compat with off the shelf devices. of course, that doesn't mean you can buy a reader and upload your own firmware. and they do talk about how it is difficult to find linux developers in hong kong.

there's more stuff at the end about linux and compatibility. read more.

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