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Electronic purse expected to become operational in March

Electronic purse expected to become operational in March

Taipei, Jan. 29 (CNA) The EasyCard, a contactless smartcard system for use on the Taipei MRT system, will soon become an electronic purse that can be used to purchase small-value items, the card's issuer, Taipei EasyCard Corp., said Friday.
If everything goes smoothly, the i-cash EasyCard will be formally launched in March at the earliest, a company spokesman said.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin joined Taipei EasyCard Corp. President Jason Lin and President Chain Store Corp. COO James Hsieh at a 7-Eleven store in Xinyi District Friday to try out the new card to make a purchase.
The new payment system, which will allow up to NT$10,000 (US$312.50) to be stored in the card, will be put in place a year after the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Act Governing the Issuance of Electronic Stored Value Cards that paved the way for the new payment vehicle.
Hau said the launch of the electronic payment system means that the EasyCard will no longer be limited to use in paying for transportation services in Taipei but can be used nationwide as a cash card to buy goods.
"The card not only makes it more convenient for consumers, it is also a symbol of an advanced city," he said.
In comparison with Hong Kong's Octopus Card, which has seen the number of contracted stores increase to 16,000 in eight years, Taipei EasyCard Corp. has already signed up 10,000 stores to its network over the past year.
At present, cardholders can only add value to their cards at those stores. But once the payment system becomes operational, they will be able to use the cards to shop in contracted stores as well.
"Taipei EasyCard's electronic purse will catch up with Octopus or even outperform it soon," Hau said.
The EasyCard was first launched in June 2002 for use on the Taipei MRT system, on buses and other public transport services in Taipei.
The current maximum stored value in an EasyCard is NT$500.
(By Sun Chen-wu and Deborah Kuo)