Telecommunications giant HKT has expanded its mobile payment service Tap & Go to allow more online and offline retail payments and greater peer-to-peer transfer options after being granted a stored value license by Hong Kong’s de facto central bank. Tap & Go was launched in July last year and in August HKT Payment Limited was one of four players to be granted the first batch of Stored Value Facilities licences by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Alex Arena, group managing director of HKT, said the company was committed to providing convenient and secure payment services to all mobile users in Hong Kong as financial technology (fintech) services expand in the city. “We intend to be an innovator in fintech,” he said at a launch of the new services on Monday. Tencent’s WeChat Pay, Alibaba’s Alipay Wallet, Hong Kong-based TNG Wallet and Octopus & O! ePay run by Octopus Cards also received licences from the HKMA. Alibaba Group owns the South China Morning Post. Mobile payment services in Hong Kong have lagged those offered in other markets, particularly mainland China where 332.3 million, or 49 per cent of the nation’s smartphone users, are expected to pay for goods and services using their devices by 2020, according to research by eMarketer. An estimated 195.3 million people, or 38 per cent of mainland smartphone users, are expected to buy items using their mobile phones this year. US technology giant Apple launched its mobile payment service Apple Pay in Hong Kong in July, allowing shoppers to pay using their mobile phones by linking their Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit cards to its payment service. Smartphone users can pay for goods and services in stores with their devices through near field communications-enabled (NFC) payment points or by scanning QR codes, a type of machine readable optical label. Mobile wallets can also be used to pay for items within apps. New services announced by HKT include the PaymentPartner service that will let users pay in stores either within an app, online or by scanning a QR code in a brick and mortar store. Parents can use the Tap & Go PayMaster service to control five registered accounts to track payments made by members of the family. HKT is also working with schools to let educational institutions publish announcements on expenses for pupils and to receive payment from parents made through their mobile phones. Newly announced PayBuddy will allow peer-to-peer payments between individuals such as friends settling a restaurant bill. Arena said the payments system will continue to include a physical card as traditional plastic is still important in Hong Kong. He added that Tap & Go is sponsoring a new interactive game on ViuTV for viewers to win millions in spending credit, starting in November. The mobile payment services are available to anybody in Hong Kong on both iPhone and Android devices, as well as the Tap & Go cards, which can be bought from 7-Eleven or Watson’s stores.