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Travel, Asia

Melissa Lin
Thursday, Jun 5, 2014

Travel, Asia

Travel card for Taiwan visitors

The Straits Times | Melissa Lin | Thursday, Jun 5, 2014

Singapore's smart card system operator EZ-Link is working with its Taiwanese counterpart EasyCard Corporation to develop the dual-currency card.

Singapore travellers to Taiwan can soon use the same card to take buses and subway trains in both places, and vice versa.

The card can also be used to pay for purchases at retail outlets such as convenience stores, and as an electronic ticket to attractions in the two economies.

Singapore's smart card system operator EZ-Link is working with its Taiwanese counterpart EasyCard Corporation to develop the dual-currency card, aimed at tourists and business travellers.

Yesterday, EZ-Link chief executive Nicholas Lee and EasyCard Corporation chairman Chang Chia- Sheng signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the card.

Taipei city mayor Hau Lung-bin presided over the ceremony, held in Singapore.

The mechanics have not been worked out, but the idea is for the card to have two "purses" - in Singapore and Taiwan dollars each.

Singapore travellers using the dual-currency card will not need to worry about having unused Taiwan dollars left in the card when they leave Taiwan, said Mr Lee.

"You can have the peace of mind that the balance money can be refunded back to you or transferred back to your Singapore dollar 'purse'."

Mr Lee hopes the card, dubbed the Cross Border Combi Card - whose Chinese name in short is "shuang qian bao (double purse)" - will be ready within a year.

The tie-up comes as the number of visitors between the two places rises. Last year, Singapore welcomed about 400,000 visitors from Taiwan, a 23 per cent increase from 2012.

Also last year, 360,000 tourists from Singapore visited Taiwan, up 11 per cent from 2012, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

A frequent visitor to Taiwan, Ms Cynthia Teo, 25, likes the idea of the card as it will offer more convenience.

"I won't always have to buy a separate card when I'm in Taiwan," said the tax consultant.

EZ-Link, which is owned by the Land Transport Authority, has been in talks with other Asia-Pacific countries on similar cards, said Mr Lee.

"Our primary objective is to focus on countries that have similar infrastructure... and where tourism is strong between both countries," he added.

EZ-Link's first cross-border venture, a Singapore-Guangdong transit card, was announced last year and will be launched "soon", said Mr Lee. It is working with the Guangdong Lingnan Pass Company on this.

mellinjm@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 3, 2014.
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