Apple & the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong just launched the ability to pay when you hit the turnstile to ride the subway with your Octopus on your iPhone.

You can setup a new Octopus card or transfer a physical one into the digital space. If you lived in Hong Kong long enough you have a bunch of these laying around so it is time to dig them up and see if they have any money on them.

Getting Started with Octopus on Apple Wallet

In your Apple Wallet app just click the plus button to add another card. You should have your phone set to the region of “Hong Kong” in your Settings > General > Language & Region preferences or this probably won’t show up.

This can be added to your iPhone or your Apple Watch but not both.

Choose the Card Type

Choose the Octopus card type to get started. (Make sure your phone is set to the Hong Kong region.) / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
Choose the Octopus card type to get started. (Make sure your phone is set to the Hong Kong region.) / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman

For existing cards skip this screen

The initial setup screen is for setting up a new Octopus card. If you just arrived in the city then stick with the default option. If you are a long time Octopus card user tap "Transfer Existing Card". / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
The initial setup screen is for setting up a new Octopus card. If you just arrived in the city then stick with the default option. If you are a long time Octopus card user tap “Transfer Existing Card”. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman

Add a Transit Card

The transit card screen asks for the last 5 digets of your Octopus card number including the number in paranteses. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
The transit card screen asks for the last 5 digets of your Octopus card number including the number in paranteses. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman

Transfer your Octopus Value by contact

This is where there is no turning back if you are successful. Once your Octopus card value has been transferred to your phone the card can be discarded.

Best to use a table to put your phone in contact with your Octopus card. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
Best to use a table to put your phone in contact with your Octopus card. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman


Wait for it to transfer the data from your card.

Transfering your Octopus card to your iPhone is pretty quick. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
Transfering your Octopus card to your iPhone is pretty quick. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
When your card is setup succesfully you will see this screen and the card will now be on your iPhone / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
When your card is setup succesfully you will see this screen and the card will now be on your iPhone / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman


After a successful transfer you can then dispose of your physical octopus card.

The card is given priority in your apple wallet

Now just tap your phone at the 7-11 or any of the other many points of sale that take Octopus without needing to verify with Face ID and remove your face mask.

This screen means you can tap your phone on the turnstyle and go. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
This screen means you can tap your phone on the turnstyle and go. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman

The detailed screen of your Octopus Card.

You can also set this up using the Octopus App but I prefer to stick in the Apple Wallet ecosystem.

Viewing your Octopus card details in Apple Wallet. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
Viewing your Octopus card details. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman

This is what the Octopus card looks like in your Apple Wallet

You can now top-up your Apple Wallet card with any Hong Kong Credit card or at a convenience store just like any physical Octopus card.

You can view all the history of your spending for those ice creams at 7-11 / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
You can view all the history of your spending for those ice creams at 7-11 / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman

The benefits of having your card digitized include being able to see a detailed purchase history and if you look at this screen it will even tell you when you are currently on a trip.

What if it doesn’t work?

If you see the screen below then it didn’t work. This happened to me when I tried to link an Octopus card that was gifted to me by HSBC. I think since it didn’t have a deposit it was not possible to link the card.

Certain Octopus cards are not eligible find the extra one you have lying around if you are really determined to try. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman
Certain Octopus cards are not eligible find the extra one you have lying around if you are really determined to try. / Image courtesy of Brent Deverman

Should I add it to my iPhone or my Apple Watch?

You can also add the Octopus to your Apple Watch but there is a limitation. It can be only on one device at a time. So Choose what is more convenient. Since I wear my watch on my left wrist and the contacts on the gates are on the right side I am going to try my phone first. It is not like I don’t have it in my hand using it on the MTR anyway.

Using Octopus in Shenzhen

The dual Shenzhen Tong plus Octopus card cannot be transferred to your Apple Wallet. Still the Octopus in your iPhone is great for getting to and crossing the Hong Kong side of the border.

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