Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Expanded use of electronic cards gets green light

NO ‘SEAN LIEN’ ACT Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin denied allegations that the move was aimed at helping EasyCard president and KMT member Sean Lien

By Flora Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The pan-blue-dominated legislature passed the Act on Issuance and Management of Electronic Monetary Cards (電子票證發行管理條例) yesterday, paving the way for the integration of several of the nation’s electronic cash cards.

The Act allows companies to issue a single electronic monetary card that can be used for multiple purposes. Cardholders will be able to pay for products, services or government fees with the card.

Currently, many businesses like 7-Eleven stores or Taipei EasyCard Corp have their own electronic monetary cards, but they are usually intended for a single purpose such as payment for MRT or bus tickets.

The bill put a NT$10,000 ceiling on the value that can be stored on a card, adding that businesses that issue electronic cash cards can either issue disposable or reusable cards.

The Act authorizes the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) to approve or reject applications to issue cards.

Under the Act, only limited liability companies with a minimum capital of NT$300 million (US$9 million) will be allowed to apply.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) proposed raising the capital threshold to NT$1 billion, but the 93 legislators present rejected the proposal 69 to 24.

With approval from the FSC, companies can also issue electronic cash cards that can be used abroad or cooperate with foreign firms to issue electronic cards in Taiwan, the bill said.

The companies qualified to issue electronic monetary cards would be liable for keeping customers’ personal information confidential and are banned from providing the information to others for marketing purposes.

The FSC would be allowed to inspect the operations and financial condition of the companies at any time, the Act said.

Those found guilty of counterfeiting electronic cash cards would face a jail term of between one year and 10 years and a fine of between NT$10 million and NT$200 million.

Those found to have made a profit of more than NT$100 million through the offense would be sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison and fined between NT$25 million and NT$500 million.

Following passage of the bill, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) said the act would help the nation’s monetary system catch up with global trends.

Ting said allowing electronic cards to be used for multiple purposes would make it more convenient for people to conduct transactions.

However, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) expressed concern that the nation’s financial system would end up controlled by the small number of companies allowed to issue the cards.

“The bill was passed hastily, without sufficient discussion among legislators,” Yeh said.

Taipei EasyCard Corp said yesterday that the company would expand the use of the EasyCard as a result of the Act’s passage and that card holders would be able to use the cards at major convenience stores, fast food chains, coffee shops, gas stations and bakeries as early as June.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Taipei EasyCard Corp chairman Sean Lien (連勝文) yesterday lauded the passage of the Act at a joint press conference.

“The company expects the EasyCard to function as an electronic wallet, with people being able to pay for newspapers, coffee and other things using their card,” Lien said at Taipei City Hall.

Hau dismissed allegations that the Act was passed to profit the company and further Lien’s career.

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