EasyCard, iPass e-Payment IC Cards (悠遊卡、一卡通、電子交通支付卡 )
A contactless payment system based on wireless technology, the EasyCard, iPass, and other related IC card systems are widely available across Taiwan for usage on public transport, as a debit card system at shops, and for usage in other capacities such as rewards cards or tickets and keys.
For public transportation, the cards are most frequently used on the Taipei MRT, Kaohsiung MRT, public city buses, local trains, Youbike rental system, and the Airport MRT.
The most common card is the public Taipei EasyCard (悠遊卡), followed by the Kaohsiung iPass (一卡通), then other private cards such as iCash from Uni-President and HappyCash from FarEast. The public cards have island-wide acceptance on public transit, and the private cards have varying levels of acceptance and offer rewards at their affiliated shops. There is no 'correct card' to use, however most people will choose EasyCard, and those in Kaohsiung may choose iPass.
IC cards are available in a large variety of designs and shapes, with the standard cards generally costing NT$100, which then must be loaded with cash to activate. Custom and brand-affiliated designs such as Sanrio (Hello Kitty, Gudetama, etc.) or Pokémon may cost more money. Besides standard credit card-shaped designs, alternative designs such as keychains or charms may be available. The easiest place to find these types of designs is near the checkout of convenience stores.
Developed on MIFARE technology from NXP Semiconductor, IC payment cards in Taiwan are generally compatible with most 'competing' networks. The easiest place to load a card is by cash at an MRT station or a convenience store. Cards are used by holding the card at a close distance and 'tapping' the card against the terminal. Some terminals, such as those on public transit, offer local processing and will process the transaction immediately. Other terminals require a network connection to process the payment and may take up to a few seconds. Terminals may be built into the cash register (such as at 7/11) or may exist as an attachment to the terminal. Sometimes, EasyCard and iPass terminals may exist separately next to the cash register, and the user should inform the employee which card they intend to use. Cards such as iCash and HappyCash may not be operational outside of public transit or their parent company shop networks, and travelers are encouraged to use either EasyCard or iPass.
IC Cards such as EasyCard are available in multiple categories, including standard Adult as well as Student and Concession, however these latter categories require proof of identification issued by a Taiwanese authority and foreign identification is generally not accepted. Some IC cards are bundled into local credit cards and may offer autoloading, and city governments may offer a personalized EasyCard for senior residents as proof of identity and to obtain benefits such as subsidized bus fares.
EasyCards are increasing in usage among small-amount debit transactions such as convenience store purchases, fast food restaurants, taxi fares, parking fares, venue tickets (such as the zoo), sports center entrance fees, amusement park ride tickets, government fees, library services, hospital registration fees, and transportation.
The action of using an IC card is known in Mandarin Chinese as '嗶卡' (bī kǎ, beep card), similar to the 'beep' sound emitted from the terminal. The word '刷卡' (shuā kǎ, swipe card) is usually reserved for the usage of a credit card.
In the event that an IC card is not operational due to damage, the card can be brought to an MRT station for refund of the cash that is stored on the card.
Public transit trips made on the card that exceed the available balance will result in a negative balance on the card up to -NT$60. Successive transactions will fail until the card has been topped up to a positive balance. The maximum balance allowed on EasyCard is NT$10,000.
When using IC Cards for purchases, the customer may elect to electronically store the receipt of purchase onto the IC Card instead of taking a paper receipt. These receipts are also valid for the bimonthly receipt lottery, and may be most easily checked by using the iBon machine at 7/11.