Pokémon fans have been treated a broad array of merch throughout its long history, but very little of it has boasted real-world applications until recently.
Taiwan has struck up a deal with Niantic, the company that develops the hit mobile game Pokémon Go, and it’s snowballed into giving the country’s capital what’s essentially a Pokémon Oyster card.
Residents of Taipei will be used to the city’s EasyCard for navigating public transport. Launched in 2002, the card – embedded with contactless NFC technology – has proliferated as commuters prefer it to paper tickets and payment cards that require a PIN.
The Poké Ball-shaped smartcard can be used instead of the traditional EasyCard, and it even lights up when you make a purchase – which is quite frankly the coolest thing about it.
It’s the perfect way to catch a train in a hurry: simply tap the ball on a reader – launching it Pokémon style will only yield some confused looks – and embrace your inner Ash with every trip.
Unlike London’s Oyster cards, EasyCards are so popular in Taipei that even certain businesses like corner shops accept them as a method of payment, and we promise to share any meta footage of someone paying for a pack of Pokémon cards with one of these.
The Poké Balls were initially launched last year and were limited to just 3,000 units, which were snapped up almost immediately for $11 (£8.46) each.
Due to popular demand, 14,000 of them were eventually sold, but they’re back in 2020 for a new limited-unit release. Pre-orders are expected to begin in mid-October, and while you probably won’t be able to catch them all, Pokémon-loving Taipei residents will want at least one.
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