Wednesday, October 7, 2009

EZ-Link Giro top-up - Part 11 (switching EZ-Link Cards, Where's the benefit?)

The Straits Times, October 5, 2009, Page A22
Kwong Hui Hen

Picture is obtained from

Switching EZ-Link Cards, Where's the benefit?

EZ-LINK has spared no effort to promote its new Cepas ez-link card, But I am not sure if convenience and lower cost to the consumer were what it had in mind.

Consider these:
Under the Contactless e-Purse Application Standard (Cepas) card - Which EZ-Link dubs EZ-Reload - the cardholder must send a written application, pay a one-off application fee (with a waiver thrown in until February) and wait 21 days for the application to be approved.

Worse, the Cepas cardholder incurs a fee each time the card is topped up (ironically dubbed as ("convenience fee'' by EZ-Link).

Compare these with the previous arrangement where the ez-link cardholder could apply for Giro at a general ticketing machine and get instant approval.

I cannot help but wonder why we are switching to something that seems technologically more primitive.

I am not sure the new features are worthwhile either. According to the EZ-Link website:
A Cepas card can be used for Electronic Road Pricing payment with the next-generation in-vehicle unit (IU). Does one expect a motorist to fish out the Cepas card from his IU so he can use it on the MRT?

It allows a maximum stored value of $500. Who would want to put in that much?

It can be used for non-transit payments. With most shops accepting credit cards and Nets, the benefit of an additional payment option is marginal.

It retains full value with no need to pay a deposit. My understanding is that one cannot take a ride if the stored value falls below $3, so what difference does it make?

Looking at all these features, I cannot help but conclude that the switch to the Cepas card is solely commercially driven.

Picture is obtained from

It is disappointing that EZ-Link charges a fee to reload. I understand EZ-Link incurs a bank charge in the process, but which business does not incur a charge for customers paying by Nets or credit card? Employers incur Giro fees to pay salaries into employees' accounts by direct debit, but does any firm recover the cost from its employees?

The new Cepas card seems to be a step backwards rather than forwards.

Kwong Hui Hen