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Stores accept EasyCards for payment

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Contracted retailers nationwide began accepting payments Thursday using EasyCards, an electronic card previously used only for paying transport fares in Taipei.

The cards have a maximum storage value of NT$10,000 and can be used for purchases of up to NT$1,000 per payment, with a daily maximum of NT$3,000.

Initially, about one out of every 100 adult consumers in Taiwan, or 100,000 in total, are expected to use the contactless smart cards to purchase small-value goods, EasyCard Corp. Chairman Sean Lien said.

The retailers that began accepting EasyCard payments Thursday include the country's four main convenience store chains -- 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, OK-Mart and Hi-Life -- as well as Starbucks, Cosmed, Mister Donut, Afternoon Tea, Cold Stone and Muji -- brands operated by President Chain Store Corp. (PCSC), which operates 7-Eleven.

The cards will also be accepted at Wellcome and Matsusei supermarkets, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, the food court of Global Mall in Taipei County, Hsin Tung Yang, Ten Ren Tea, Dunkin' Donuts, Yamazaki Bakery, Is Coffee, Bread First bakery, Watsons, Miramar Cinemas and Taroko Sports Plaza, according to EasyCard Corp.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin joined Lien and EasyCard Corp. President Jason Lin at a Starbucks and a Mister Donut store located near Taipei City Hall to buy coffee and donuts for breakfast with their cards.

"The card not only makes it more convenient for consumers, it is also a symbol of an advanced city," Hau said.

Hau's EasyCard, actually in the form of a SIM card, was built into an HTC smartphone handset.

Lin used his wristwatch, which carries an EasyCard SIM card, to pay for his coffee and donuts.

Lien said there are currently more than 8 million EasyCards in circulation.

The total number of users of these cards is far less than 50 percent of the country's population, which indicates that there is a lot of room for expansion, Lien said.

He suggested that EasyCard holders personalize their cards to avoid financial losses if their cards are lost or stolen.

"Now cardholders are only at risk for six hours after reporting a missing card, much shorter than the 12 hours before, " Lien added.

Meanwhile, Mayor Hau lauded Lien for the contribution he has made in turning EasyCard Corp.'s finances from red to black in a short 20 months, and for facilitating the launch of the new payment system.

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