New ATM Chip Card Worries Hong Kong Netizens

In 2011, Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced that all ATM magnetic strip cards are going to be replaced by chip cards to increase security. As new ATM chip cards are being rolled out, netizens have noticed that the symbol of Visa Plus/Mastercard’s Cirrus is gone and only that of China UnionPay remains. Besides worrying about privacy and security problems of China UnionPay, netizens also see this as a sign that Beijing has absolute control over their bank accounts.

Visa Plus is gone in new ATM chip card.
Visa Plus is gone in new Hong Kong ATM chip cards (Upper). Source
Visa Plus and Mastercard’s Cirrus are ditched in Hong Kong ATM chip cards. Source: HSBC

Netizens’ Comments


1. Smart identity card is to monitor what you have done, what you have applied, what you have signed up, your ISP and telephone accounts etc.
2. Octopus card is to monitor to where you have been and what you have bought.
3. ATM chip card is to monitor your account activity.
I don’t discuss with conspiracy theory. Think for yourself.


膠人: I am from Macao (and a bank staff). Macao ATM cards are also going to be changed to China UnionPay chip cards. It is really fantastic. If the Communist Party is in trouble, everyone will be forced to be “patriotic”. (f***)


**俠: Point 1, that is to prevent Mainlanders from transferring money to overseas through Hong Kong, is right. Everybody knows that RMB is like hell bank note. If Mainland China is in trouble, Mainlanders will be more hysterical than you. They will all rush to banks demanding foreign currency exchange (like USD). Renmin Bank will not have that f**king amount of USD.

As the news spreads, Mainlanders in overseas will withdraw foreign currencies equivalent to the amounts of their RMB accounts…

….China UnionPay will certainly not be able to withdraw money as China will definitely shut down UnionPay.


**邪神: If the intention were what you guys estimated – through obstructing overseas withdrawal and reducing the outflow of money, when Mainland China/Hong Kong were in trouble, Monetary Authority could make Hong Kong bank reserve sufficient. Then, Hong Kong government could freeze citizens’ accounts – Hong Kong people’s assets would be in danger. However, rich people generally have offshore accounts, they would not be affected. Only general people would.


*你正呀喂: Seriously, HK people have to transfer money outside of HK or buy gold to keep the assets. HK always say “deposit protection”, which may be just an ad asking you to keep your asset in HK for China to take out anytime.

6 thoughts on “New ATM Chip Card Worries Hong Kong Netizens

  1. What a horrible choice. Cirrus can be used to withdraw money in Mainland China and across countries worldwide. UnionPay is confined to Mainland China and a handful of other locations. Seems HK consumers are getting a rather raw deal here.

  2. One should not underestimate the desire and ability for the Chinese regime in population control. Monitoring our financial and physical footprints would provide them with invaluable intelligence. While it may seem like a grand conspiracy, I do believe there is a substantial degree of truth. We cannot ignore the fact that Mainland Chinese corporations are intrinsically linked with the Chinese government. Personally, I seldom use products or service from Mainland financial or telecommunications companies.

  3. Congralutions on the idiots at the Hong Kong banks…now your ATM cards can’t be used anywhere but the HK-China region.

    Then again, who in the right minds would open RMB-denominated accounts in any region? Service at Chinese banks are a joke, their employees should be taken through the backdoor and shot.

    There are plenty of banks out there in various major currencies.

  4. @nulle-

    Believe it or not (and it’s also a sort of irony, if you think about it), UnionPay is more widely accepted in Japan than Plus/Cirrus- some ATMs that I was told “no foreign cards” magically work with my Dah Sing ATM card.

    But you have a point about Chinese bank service- there is exactly one reason I have a BoC account, and I don’t use it for anything else.

  5. On the rare occasions I’m in China (i.e. dragged along for a family “vacation”), I always use cash only (exchanged before crossing the border), in a wallet with a chain. Yes, I actually have a wallet specifically for China.

  6. […] Why is my ATM card a piece of crap now? Several major banks forced customers onto the UnionPay ATM network this year, instead of the internationally recognised, VISA-backed ‘Plus’ system. The mainland government-backed UnionPay network is operated under the People’s Bank of China, leading some conspiratorial HK Netizens to become suspicious of the changeover, as documented over on BadCanto Blog. […]

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