As of Friday, all BTS Skytrain “Rabbit Card” holders are required to register their Thai identification cards or passport numbers as well as contact information with train operators.
“By law, your Rabbit Card is a form of electronic payment, and as such you are required to register your card,” reads a message on the train system operator’s website, citing the 1999 Anti-Money Laundering Act.
When asked why a 20-year-old law is only now being enforced, an employee we reached via the 24-hour Rabbit Card hotline said he had “no idea.”
To register, passengers must provide their ID card or passport along with their phone number or email to the ticket office of any BTS and BRT station or the Rabbit service center located at the Siam BTS stop.
While the good folks at Rabbit are touting the fact that card holders will now be able to verify their identity in order reclaim the balance on a lost or stolen card, plenty of netizens were more concerned about the fact they would now be “tracked.”
Reaction thus far has been decidedly mixed.
“Great idea, they should expand this policy to food court cash cards as well,” wrote one Facebook commenter who chose to see the glass half full.
But privacy concerns surrounding the giving out of personal information seemed to be the main concern from naysayers.
“Ridiculous. What next, a big stamp on our forehead? A private company demanding ALL my personal info in a land where trust is a commodity easily bought and sold! F*** that!” wrote one of many displeased with the move.
“Just another way of keeping track of people… Big Brother is watching!” wrote another on a popular expat message board.
Others scoffed at the ties to the Anti-Money Laundering Act. The Rabbit Card, after all, only holds a maximum of THB4,000 (or about US$128). Hardly enough to launch any self-respecting criminal enterprise.
So what do you think, readers? Are you on board with the new move or do you smell the creeping overreach of Big Brother? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter at @CoconutsBangkok.