Hong Kong-based MetroWalker launched its mobile coupon and location look-up services yesterday, with a company spokesman saying the aim was to expand services to major mainland cities by the end of this year. The coupon download service, which allows mobile phone users to download discount coupons from about 600 local merchants, is available on all networks. The location-based services are available only on the CSL network but MetroWalker's sales and marketing manager, Tim Lui Chi-teen, said they should be coming to three more Hong Kong networks by next month. MetroWalker is one of a number of companies hoping to offer location-based services over the city's six mobile phone networks. Another company, Pinpoint, has been working with Hutchison's Orange network on a service that allows companies to track and dispatch mobile workers, and the two also have plans to introduce services that allow subscribers to keep track of children and the elderly. The Pinpoint service, to be introduced later this year, will use location-tracking software to be launched by some handset makers. Current mobile workforce applications, and Orange's location-based short message service (SMS) advertising service, use simpler measurements based on a user's proximity to the network's base stations. MetroWalker also has plans to bring a 'buddy finder' service to the market this year. The technology used would vary from network to network, Mr Lui said, but a user's location would generally be based on their distance from one or more base stations. Accuracy would be within a 100 metre to 200-metre radius. Talk of adding people-finder features to mobile phone services has raised concern among some privacy advocates, but Mr Lui said the sought-after party would be given a choice. 'Of course you will know that I'm looking for you and you can reject,' he said. MetroWalker's database contains more than 200,000 locations, including buildings, hospitals, automatic teller machines and 60,000 merchants, of whom 600 have signed up for the mobile coupon service. Users of CSL, and eventually other networks, will be able to go to a wireless access protocol (WAP) site, choose their location and find nearby services. Chosen destinations - car parks for instance - are 'shown according to distance and later on we'll even include the price', Mr Lui said. Cost to the subscriber is HK$1 per use. The company's coupon service is a little more complicated. Subscribers of any network may dial #9395, enter a coupon code obtained from print advertisements or the Web, and download coupons. There is no location-based element to this service and the user is charged 66 cents for every six seconds of download time. Mr Lui said MetroWalker was a privately backed company with about two dozen employees in Hong Kong and almost 100 developers in Shanghai. He said he expected the services to be expanded to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou before the end of the year.