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Design Concept

Smart Cards - they're everywhere!

Hong Kong is a world leader in the use of smart card technology.

The contactless smart card uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and is most commonly used as an electronic stored-value card.

Introduced in Hong Kong in 1997 for public transport transactions, the cards are now accepted by more than 2 000 service providers. They have also been adapted for a range of different uses such as access to residential buildings, marking school attendance or to sign up for school activities.

New designs have also been developed to make them even easier to use.

Smart ID Card

New generation Smart ID cards have been issued since 2003.

The card is embedded with an integrated circuit, or 'chip', that stores the data, photo and the fingerprint templates of the cardholder.

The card's spare memory capacity can also store a personal digital certificate that allows the holder to perform secure e-transactions on the Internet.

The card can also be used as a library card as well as for automated booking of sports and leisure facilities at self-service kiosks.

The biometric information stored in the card allows additional applications that enhance efficiency and clearance times at Immigration control points.

The Automated Passenger Clearance and Automated Vehicle Clearance Systems - known as e-Channels - verify the biometric data stored in the card against the cardholder's thumbprint that is scanned at an easy-to-use control gate.

This allows ID card holders to pass through Immigration formalities in a matter of seconds, substantially reducing waiting time and smoothing the flow of people.

This verification also allows cardholders to access e-Passport kiosks to obtain a pre-printed application form by simply inserting their Smart ID into the machine - decreasing chances of mistakes, and saving time.

Future Practices … Wider use of smart cards

Hong Kong aspires to be a global leader in social innovations that promote sustainable urban living. New uses for smart cards are being explored in areas such as education, medical care, and conservation.

Possible applications include the use of smart cards for student access to museums, concerts and exhibitions - making it easier for students to take part in art and cultural activities and enhance whole-person development.

Smart cards may also be used to provide reliable access to e-health records, which will improve continuity of treatment and care for patients. Smart cards encouraging 'green' behaviour are also being considered.

Did you know...

  • More than 19 million smart cards are now in circulation - yet Hong Kong only has a population of 7 million!
  • Hong Kong has the world's highest penetration of a commercial smart card system - 95% of Hong Kong people aged between 16 and 65 have at least one smart card
  • World's widest scope of applications - accepted and used by more than 2,000 service providers, including public transport operators, car parks, parking meters, convenience stores, coffee shops, retail outlets, fast food chains, vending machines, leisure facilities, and school campuses
  • World's most used smart card system - currently, over 10 million transactions a day … and growing.
  • Daily transaction value of HK$85 million a day - or HK$31 billion a year.