UPDATE: Smart Octopus services are online again after a 15 hour or so outage, let’s see if OCL offers up an explanation for an unscheduled, and so far, unexplained service outage.
Octopus Cards Limited suspended Smart Octopus online services on November 18 around 6pm local time: All online services for Smart Octopus are temporarily unavailable until further notice. It was impossible to figure out what exactly stopped working as the OCL site did not list details.
It sounded like select Smart Octopus backend services were offline (for adding cards, credit card recharge, etc.) but Smart Octopus was not blocked at the gates (hard but not impossible to do with hotlist management). Smart Octopus in Samsung Pay users were the only ones who knew what worked and what didn’t.
It could be that OCL parent MTR wanted to discourage mobile transit use and divert transit users to recharge Octopus cards at machines that can be turned off by area or station as needed at a turbulent time with Hong Kong Polytechnic University under siege. It could also be that nothing was really offline as MRT has done similar things before, such as taping ‘out of service’ notices on fully functioning kiosks, perhaps to discourage protesters and supporters from moving around freely. Without an official explanation for anything, we don’t know.
In the current state of affairs I don’t think Apple Pay Octopus will launch this year even though everything is ready to go. It’s impossible to launch a new service when MTR and OCL are showing signs of reining services in without notice. Whatever is really happening, it feels like Hong Kong is under a kind of lock down. Stay safe.