New technology speeds up sales

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 May, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong has taken another step towards becoming a cashless society with the introduction of payWave technology which lets Visa card users make smaller purchases without the need for swipes, signatures or passwords.

'It is a quick and convenient payment method that eliminates direct contact at the merchant's terminal,' says Sunny Cheung, Visa's country manager for Hong Kong and Macau. 'There is no fumbling for cash and it is as secure as traditional card transactions.'

Shoppers with suitably enabled cards can now simply 'wave, pay and go' for transactions under HK$500 at outlets with the necessary point-of-sale readers. The whole process should take little more than four seconds. For purchases above the HK$500 limit, the same card can be used in the traditional way.

Cheung says the reaction from consumers and merchants since the launch in 2008 has been very encouraging. The number of readers around Hong Kong continues to grow rapidly from the 7,000 in place at the end of last year, while acceptance points include ferry services, beauty shops, cinemas, fast food chains, bakeries and convenience stores.

A company survey found the highest usage at supermarkets and personal care stores, where the contactless function is steadily replacing other methods of payment. The overall share of Visa transactions at merchants equipped with payWave technology has increased by nearly 24 per cent since its introduction.

'Cardholders can check their transaction record with issuing banks and will receive itemised monthly bills,' Cheung says. 'They can also enjoy interest-free periods and different benefits, depending on the programmes offered by the [four] issuing banks.'

The smart chip in each card is encoded with the dynamic data authentication technology and multiple security measures that comply with the highest standards. These create a unique signature for every transaction and throw tight security around cardholder information. Payment protection for lost or stolen cards is the same as for more typical uses.

According to Cheung, positive feedback has centred on the enhanced speed and ease of making small purchases. But it also highlights the need to bring more outlets on board.