Singapore 2010 Visa Prepaid Cards

DBS Bank has recently introduced the DBS Visa Prepaid Card in commemoration of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Simply, the card is loaded with a stored value and can be used just like a credit card or a debit card over the counter. This card is accepted locally and overseas, and even over the internet. Unlike the CapitaGiftCard, the DBS Visa Prepaid Card is the first prepaid card in Singapore which can be used for online and overseas transactions.

According to the DBS website, ‘The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games DBS Visa Prepaid Card is a DBS and Visa branded Prepaid Card designed exclusively for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. The Card can be used from the time of purchase and activation till after the Games, as long as you top up your Visa-purse value to pay for your purchases at all Visa-accepting merchants, both locally and abroad.’ Topping up of the card is convenient, either through an online portal or at any AXS Station. However, the CapitaGiftCard cannot be reloaded. The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games DBS Visa Prepaid Card is valid until 31 December 2011.

As the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games is the very first of its kind in the world, this prepaid card is definitely worth collecting. Impress your friends by using these prepaid cards for payment, although it is recommended for collection purposes. The Champions Edition Prepaid Card Gift Pack is available at S$188 (US$137), while the Mascots Edition Prepaid Card is available as a Gift Pack at S$50 or S$28 each. The card can be purchased over the internet or at any DBS branch in Singapore. For those who just want a prepaid card to make payment transactions over the internet, DBS would probably release a standard version of the card in time to come, due to the popularity of prepaid cards in other countries as a secure mode of payment.

Images: DBS

Update, 7 May 2010:

I’ve finally purchased the cards over the internet! Here’s a glimpse of what you will receive.


International Reply Coupons

An International Reply Coupons, or IRC for short, is a coupon which is redeemable in all Universal Postal Union (UPU) member countries, for stamps which amount to the minimum postage required for a 20 gram letter anywhere in the world. They can be purchased from post offices in over 70 countries.

These coupons are sometimes sought after by collectors of stamps and postal history. They can either be saved as interesting collectible items since they are dated, or be used for mail correspondence or transactions between people in different countries.

The reason for which International Reply Coupons are issued is to allow the sender to pay for the cost of postage for the recipient to reply, as a form of nice gesture. If the recipient resides within the same country, the sender can simply send a self-addressed stamped envelope. However, if the addressee is living in another country, stamps from the sender’s country are not valid in the recipient’s country. It is also difficult to obtain stamps from that country.

To get around this, International Reply Coupons were introduced in 1906 at a Universal Postal Union congress in Rome. They can be purchased for a fixed amount in a country and be redeemed for stamps in another country. In Singapore, each IRC is priced at $2.50, and can be redeemed for $1.10 postage stamps.

The new ‘Nairobi’ International Reply Coupons were issued from 1 July 2009 will be valid until 31 December 2013. However, these coupons were only obtainable in local post offices in early 2010. The obverse shows a globe and a yellow outline of a postage stamp.

On the reverse is a message printed in red, in six other languages: German, English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and Russian. It reads ‘This coupon is exchangeable in any country of the Universal Postal Union for the minimum postage for an unregistered priority item or an unregistered letter sent by air to a foreign country.’

The previous IRC named ‘Beijing Model No. 2’ was issued from 2006 are valid until 31 December 2009. The obverse shows an illustration of two fingers about to touch, framed in a postage stamp, with text in French.

When the IRCs are in the hands of collectors, they bear a single postmark as shown. This postmark shows the location in which the coupon was issued. For the case of Singapore, it identifies the post office from which the IRC originated. When the coupon is redeemed in the post office of another country, the IRC will be retained by the post office. However, it is possible to find coupons with two postmarks that somehow made its way into collector hands.

When overseas, some collectors purchase IRCs as a unique souvenir to document the date and the location of the visit. I’ll take note of this when I next travel. These IRCs from Singapore have been added to my collection of postal material.


Flora of Singapore

This year, the SODA Rewards Gift is inspired by the 150 Years of Singapore Botanic Gardens stamp issue. The Singapore Botanic Gardens was established in 1859 and is the oldest national park in the country. 150 years later, the Gardens transformed itself into a major tourist destination. Themed ‘Flora of Singapore’, the gift set consists of two art prints and a magnet featuring the stamp issue.

The two limited edition art prints feature the reproduction of two paintings: the Vanda Miss Joaquim and the Heliconia. Painted in watercolour by local artist Ms Anna Lu, each scientific drawing is affixed with a $1.10 stamp from the 150 Years of Singapore Botanic Gardens stamp issue.

The Vanda Miss Joaquim is an orchid hybrid between Vanda hookeriana and Vanda teres. This flower was named after Agnes Joaquim in 1893, by the first director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Mr H.N. Ridley. To foster national pride and identity, the Vanda Miss Joaquim was selected as Singapore’s national flower in 1981.

The Heliconia is the sole genus in the Heliconiaceaea family. Small true flowers are concealed within the colourful bracts, a highly modified leaf which may be take up various shapes.


Get Your Very Own ERP

ERP Souvenir News Article (ZB)

ERP Souvenir News Article (ST)

You can now have your very own Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry at home! To be more exact, it is a miniature version of the gantry. As the ERP gantry has become a unique landmark on the streets of Singapore, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has specially transformed the ubiquitous ERP gantries into mini-souvenirs.

These include an ERP gantry digital table clock, a mug and a set of coasters. The mug is the one which interests me the most. When it is filled with warm water, the words ‘In Operation’ will become visible on the gantries. From the article, an LTA spokesperson says, ‘Many foreign visitors had always bring a souvenir which could represent Singapore back home, and a design inspired by the ERP will serve this purpose.’

Now, if you are wondering where to get these souvenirs, it can be obtained from the Land Transport Gallery at 1 Hampshire Road. However, these souvenirs do not come cheap. The digital clock costs $20, and the mug and set of coasters would each set you back by $10. However, you can do your part for charity as proceedings from the sale will be donated to the LTA Cares Fund, which provides transport subsidies for the poor and disabled.

This article appeared in Lianhe Zaobao on 6 May 2009.