5 things you need to know about ez-link cards

With recent news that ez-link will be replacing cards which are expiring this year, here are some things you may or may not not know about the card you casually flash every day:

1. Free replacements for expiring cards

From today till Dec 31, you can replace your ez-link cards expiring this year for free.

Check if your card is expiring by going to the website at www.ezlink.com.sg and entering the 16-digit number printed on the back. You can also do it at general ticketing machines, add value machines, SAM kiosks, OCBC automated teller machines and AXS stations. Replace your eligible cards at any TransitLink ticket office at no cost, while stocks last

There will also be roadshows every Friday, Saturday and Sunday this month at various locations, including Ang Mo Kio bus interchange and Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, to replace the cards. You can transfer any remaining value into the new cards.

2. You can soon use your card overseas

If you are heading to Taiwan, you can soon use the same card you use in Singapore, for public transport payment over there.

In June, ez-link and Taiwan's EasyCard Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a Cross Border Combi Card, or "shuang qian bao (double purse)" in Chinese, aiming to roll it out within a year. The cards can also be used at retail outlets and as electronic tickets at attractions.

Ez-link already has such a venture with Guangdong Lingnan Pass Company, which will be launched "soon".

3. Top up your card right on your smartphone

Did you know there exists an app that allows you to top up the value of your ez-link card on your smartphone? A world's first, the My EZ-Link Mobile app works only on Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled smartphones. NFC is a wireless transmission technology that allows mobile payment. To top up your ez-link card, just enter your personal and payment details into the app, before tapping your card on the device. Payment is automatically charged to your Visa and MasterCard debit or credit card. Goodbye long queues at ATMs and ez-link machines!

4. Ez-link cards are not just for public transport

Credit cards with ez-link functions, such as the POSB Everyday Card and Citibank SMRT Card, reduce the need for people to carry multiple cards in their wallets. They also offer cash rebates on transport expenses. Ez-link cards are nowadays used for businesses and organisations for their convenience. Notably, at the 2013 edition of popular beach party ZoukOut, party goers could use ez-link cards to pay for their drinks. Last year, a fundraising project saw the Community Chest set up advertisements at MRT stations, and people could simply tap their ez-link cards on the poster to donate a dollar.

5. The idea behind the name

The name "Ez-link" was picked from about 8,000 entries in a naming contest held by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in February 2000. Mr Wang Tong Wah, a then-50-year-old shipping coordinator, won $5,000 with his winning entry. He explained that since the card would be simple to use, he took the word "easy" and shortened it to "ez". It would also be linked to many other applications. And so, the name "Ez-link" was born!

The ez-link card was created to replace the magnetic farecards and increase public transport efficiency. As commuters only had to hold the card next to the card-reader for the fare to be deducted, it reduced bus boarding times and increased train station fare-gate transactions by 30 per cent, according to LTA.

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