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OEC with Octopus payment eyed before December

15 April 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

Hong Kong-based OFWs should be able to secure overseas employment certificates using their Octopus cards before the peak OEC application season in December this year, if plans do not miscarry.
In the meantime, they can secure the document at any branch of Metrobank, which will start processing their applications in its Hong Kong branches by Apr 17, for an additional fee of $5, making the OEC cost a total of $25 per applicant.
With the Octopus, the fee will be just over $1.
These innovations follow recent moves undertaken by POLO to speed up the processing of the OEC and put an end to the long queues of applicants to its Admiralty office during peak seasons.
Labor Attaché Jalilo de la Torre said he is also looking at authorizing leaders of Filipino community groups to accept OEC applications and payments from members, and file these in bulk with POLO for processing. The OEC may then be collected again in bulk, or sent to individual applicants who will be asked to attach a self-addressed envelope to their application letters.
De la Torre on Apr 8 held preliminary talks with Octopus HK on how OFWs can use the contactless smartcard of the electronic payment system provider in securing their OECs.
“There’s great potential here for helping us unclog the OEC queue,” De la Torre said after the meeting, where they also discussed the mechanics of using the Octopus system.
“But we still need to develop a transaction app. They (Octopus HK) will only do the payment app,” he said.
De la Torre said he had contacted former Hong Kong OFW and technology whiz Myrna Padilla for help in developing the transaction app, but her Mynd Consulting company is still busy developing an app for the US healthcare industry that will be launched in May.
“My timeline for that is around July, when she could be ready with the transaction app and then we’ll marry the two systems – the payment app and the transaction app itself,” he said.
He explained the transaction app is crucial to the system as the worker’s contract, personal and employer details would have to be input into the app.
Once that’s done, POLO will have to buy a mobile device worth around $4,000 each to be used by staff to process payments at mobile OEC sites on weekends.
He said he expects the Octopus OEC issuance system to be in place by the next peak season in December.
Meanwhile, all Metrobank branches, including a fifth that just opened in Tsuen Wan, will start processing OEC applications under a still informal agreement with POLO, De la Torre said.
He is confident both the Octopus and Metrobank deals would make the processing of OEC convenient for domestic workers who are allowed to take only one day off a week, and to ease the work load at the POLO counters especially on Sundays.
He is also encouraging OFWs to apply for OEC online using BM Online, the POEA’s online service, but many workers are still unaware of it or reluctant to use it. “Kung kayo ay marunong naman gumamit ng computer at internet, sana huwag na ninyong pahirapan ang inyong sarili. Pumunta na kyo sa www.bmonline.ph. Napakadaling kumuha. Hindi na dapat pumila,” he said in a speech he delivered at an event hosted by Luzon Alliance on Apr 3 on Chater Road in Central.

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