The EasyCard is a contactless smartcard system operated by the EasyCard Corporation, which was previously named the "Taipei Smart Card Corporation", for payment on the Taipei Metro (also known as "Taipei MRT", or "Taipei Rapid Transit System"), buses, and other public transport services in Taipei since June 2002, expanded to multiple place of business. Its use has also since been expanded to include convenience stores, department stores, supermarkets, taxis, and other retailers since 1 April 2010. Like conventional electronic fare systems, the card employs RFID technology to operate without physical contact. They are available for purchase at all Metro stations and all chain convenience stores.
The Taipei Smart Card Corporation was established in 2000 with a total capitalization of NT$500 million. Shareholders include the Taipei City Government, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation, banks, bus companies, and other companies. Promotional trials of the card began in 2001, and the card was officially released in 2002. In 2008, the company changed its name to the EasyCard Corporation to increase branding and visibility.
By 2009, the company had issued over 18 million cards (over 20 million if co-branded cards are included). EasyCard transactions now account for 91% of Taipei Metro system transactions, 92% of bus transactions, and 71% of parking lot transactions. Daily transactions reached 3.1 million in 2009.
The name EasyCard was chosen in a contest where the general public was asked to propose names. In Mandarin Chinese the card is known as 悠遊卡 (Pinyin: Yōu-yóu Kǎ), which literally means Easy Travel Card. The logo, designed by Y&P Design Group, is composed of four different colored logos radiating outward, each representing something different: technology and unhindered travel, sustainable development, commitment, and efficiency. In 2003, the EasyCard logo won the 20th American Corporate Identity Award of Excellence.
Users of the card on the Taipei Metro are required to pass the card over the EasyCard sensor area on fare gates both entering and exiting the stations; the first pass registers the start of the journey and the second as the end. Fares deducted from the card depend on the distance traveled and whether a public bus was used within a transfer time frame that is currently set to one hour. Fares on the Taipei Metro are based on distance, with a 20% discount over single journey tokens.
The EasyCard can also be used for the Maokong Gondola without any discounts.
The EasyCard are available for each station of the Taoyuan Airport MRT.
Users of the card can use the card on the Red and Orange Lines of the Kaohsiung Metro. Fares deducted from the card depend on the distance traveled and a 15% discount over single journey tokens, which is the same as iPASS.
The Circular light rail enabled EasyCard usage from February 2018.
The EasyCard can be add-valued only at the information center of each station of Kaohsiung Metro. The add-value machines are scheduled to enable EasyCard add-value function in May 2018.
The EasyCard are available for all stations of TRA. Passengers holding the card can take all of the train of TRA, except Taroko Express, Puyuma Express, group trains, tourism trains, and specified operating trains.
There is a 10% discount if the travelling distance is less than 70 km.
The EasyCard can be used on most city bus systems and several inter-city bus in Taiwan. Several route might not be accepted.
In Taipei, passengers using Adult cards (including co-branded credit cards and debit cards), Student cards, or Concessionaire (Welfare) cards to transfer between Metro and bus within one hour, receive an NT$8, NT$6 and NT$4 discount respectively. The EasyCard machine prevents repeated transactions on the same card until the bus travels into the next paying section.
In Taichung, users can enjoy a 10-kilometer free ride.
A trial allowing the payment of taxi fares with the card was carried out in 2005 but this payment option was not then implemented on a wider level for taxi journeys.
The EasyCard are accepted in government-run parking lots and some privately run parking lots. Parking meters accept Easy Cards exclusively, charged in quarter-hour increments, and expire in due time like a normal meter.
In addition to being usable on the Taipei Metro and buses, the EasyCard is also accepted at public garages adjacent to Metro stations and in other areas of Taipei. As of 2008, the EasyCard can be used to pay for boat rides in areas such as Tamsui.
As of 1 April 2010, EasyCards can now be used to pay for purchases at some stores including 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Cosmed, OK Mart, Hi-Life, Starbucks, and Pacific SOGO. The EasyCard can now be used at over 10,000 retail outlets throughout Taiwan. In 2011, card usage is expected to be expanded to gas stations and fast food chains.
In addition to payment, the EasyCard has also been used as a multifunctional card. At the 2010 World Model UN Conference held in Taipei, the card served as a ticket, meal coupon, and identification card (in addition to its regular uses). Limited edition cards have also been sold to raise money for charity.
In addition to paying for public transit, parking, and select retailers, the EasyCard can also be used for:
EasyCards can be used for purchases of up to NT$1,000 at available stores once, up to a maximum of NT$3,000 per day. This limit does not apply to payment of government fees, public service charges, medical costs, transport services (including recreational services like the Maokong Gondola or bicycle rental), miscellaneous school expenses, and parking fees. Value can be recharge in multiples of NT$100 and each card can hold up to NT$10,000 of value.
For consumer safety, all money from EasyCard deposits are held in the EasyCard Prepaid Trust Fund managed by Cathay United Bank. All deposits are protected by a full refund guarantee issued by First Bank.
If a card has not been used for over two years, a recharge must be made before the card will be reactivated. The balance on a card can be checked on the scanner unit whenever a transaction is made or using an EasyCard Reader located at all Taipei Metro stations.
Note: As of 1 May 2010, at certain convenience store chains (7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Hi-Life, OK Mart), Adult and Student cards may be purchased with NT$200 (NT$100 balance and NT$100 deposit).
Joint-branded cards allow for an EasyCard to be linked with a credit or ATM account to automatically add value. This allows for consumers to pay for products, services, or government fees with the card. The option remains popular with users in spite of handling fees and a limit of how much money can be added per day (NT$500).
Auto-recharge applied to debit card to make up to 3 times of each NT$500 at all Designated retailers and value-adding machine at Metro stations
Several attempts have been made to embed EasyCard radio chips into mobile devices, enabling "transactions by phone." Users are not billed by their telecommunications accounts; rather, they can read transaction records and check balance using a supported mobile phone.
As the value of an EasyCard can be used for transactions of scarce services and products, security measures are important. EasyCard uses multiple encryption techniques to prevent illegal modification of values and hacking.
At the 27th annual German Chaos Communication Congress hacker conference ("27C3") in 2010, German free software programmer Harald Welte showed that it is possible to artificially change the amount of money stored on a first-generation EasyCard —based on the MIFARE Classic chip— using nothing more than a USB RFID reader and a laptop computer running open source software. Welte denounced the system for its poor choice of cipher and lack of user authentication. He was able to map out and manipulate the card's internal format in 2 days on a trip in Taiwan.
However, hacking the EasyCard remains illegal, and in September 2011 a 24-year-old engineer was arrested on suspicion of fraudulently using a hacked EasyCard.
The EasyCard has been very popular since its launch in 2002. By 2010, over 23 million cards had been issued. (The source did not say what cards have returned has subprised)
Critics have called for stronger measures to promote name registration of EasyCards in order to protect consumer rights. Over NT$600 million is lost yearly in lost cards. As of 2009, less than 0.02% of cards had been registered.
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