December Bookends

It is exactly one year ago today that I broke the first Apple Pay Octopus story when a good source with inside connections tipped me about Octopus Cards Limited (OCL) beta testing Apple Pay for a Chinese New Year launch. As we all know, that launch did not pan out. Very little has panned out since: Samsung marketing tweaked the Smart Octopus in Samsung Pay tag line in January, Apple Pay servers yielded an Apple Pay Octopus code reference in June, OCL officially announced the service as “coming soon” in July, OCL CEO Sunny Cheung said Apple Pay Octopus would “start as soon as possible within the year” in September. Nothing since then except a few flutters from beta testers and my overactive anticipation.

The obstacle facing Apple Pay Octopus at this point is purely political, not technical. The obstacle facing Hong Kong is lack of clarity. I won’t comment on the political angle but the unexpected, unexplained service outage of Smart Octopus during the Hong Kong Polytechnic University siege says all that you need to know about how things go down in Hong Kong now: in the dark. Hong Kong MTR wants to control movement, not open it up. Tim Cook visiting Japan, Singapore and Thailand this month, but not Hong Kong or China is another indication how touch and go things are. I hope the situation improves for everybody in 2020.

Speaking of the new year, I started blogging in earnest from the spring of 2018 when I was in Salt Lake City taking care of my dad after he suffered a cerebral infarction. There was a lot of downtime and writing this blog kept me focused on fun things. A few days ago my partner of more than 10 years suffered a cerebral infarction at age 51. It doesn’t look like there will be much downtime though I do hope to keep blogging in 2020. There are fascinating changes happening in the Japan payments space to write about. Time will tell.

I hope to see you in 2020, if not you’ll know the reason why. Whatever the outcome, I want to thank all the readers of this blog and the people who reached out with questions and comments. I really enjoyed them.

A very happy and productive 2020 to all.

How surreal is this: OCL officially delayed Apple Pay Octopus one year to the day after I first reported it, a few hours after posting the above. Coincidence? At least we have closure now but the complete erasure of Apple Pay Octopus artwork from the OCL website suggests the launch will be considerably delayed, perhaps indefinitely. The original source for the story was prophetic: “I won’t believe it (Apple Pay Octopus) is really happening until Apple (not OCL) announces it.” Unfortunately he was right: the strange sad Apple Pay Octopus saga of 2019 is a reflection of where Hong Kong is right now. I hope things turn out better in the new year.

Later in 2020 is a lot of leeway