Hong Kong lags behind Singapore in mobile payments, says Visa

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 7:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 11:01pm

Mobile and electronic payment services in Hong Kong are catching up quickly but still lag behind mainland China and Singapore, according to industry players.

Payment network provider Visa has seen its contactless payment solution, which allows people to use their mobile phone, watch or Visa payWave cards to settle transactions at physical shops, double from 8 per cent to 16 per cent of all Visa transactions in the city in the past year, according to Caroline Ada, country manager of Visa Hong Kong and Macau.

“This is still below Singapore where 50 per cent of all payments are contactless,” she said on Wednesday at an event hosted by Visa and Lan Kwai Fong.

However, she is optimistic on future growth prospects in Hong Kong because contactless payment has grown quickly after many banks promoted Apple Pay and Android to customers who could add their Visa credit cards or a payWave cards to their smartphones in second half of last year. This enabled them to use smartphones to pay without any signature, while some used fingerprint scans to confirm their identity as part of the security check.

“Hong Kong people are very quick in adopting mobile payments. Many banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank are promoting the Visa PayWave cards and mobile payment. We believe contactless payments via mobile phones and payWave cards will be huge,” Ada said.

Visa payWave is different from traditional Visa credit cards as it doesn’t need to be swiped through the credit card terminal to receive authorisation, rather only needs to be touched on top of the payment terminal so banks can confirm customer identity and information, making the transaction faster.

Introduced in 2008, Visa payWave cards users in Hong Kong now stand at three 3 million, covering credit cards, mobile phones and watches.

Hong Kong is lagging behind as many people still use cash or credit cards to pay
Allan Zeman, Lan Kwai Fong entrepreneur

A survey commissioned by Visa found that 84 per cent of Hong Kong respondents had used Visa payWave or other forms of mobile payment, while 66 per cent have tried both.

The online survey polled 750 Hong Kongers in January.

Allan Zeman, the Lan Kwai Fong entrepreneur who operates a number of restaurants and bars in the district, said most mainland visitors use their mobile phones to pay.

“Hong Kong is lagging behind as many people still use cash or credit cards to pay. In the mainland people no longer use cash, they use their mobile phones to pay,” Zeman said.

Zeman’s concern was shared by Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka Keung who wrote in his official blog that the city is behind China in terms of mobile payment even though it has a well developed credit card system. Chan said the government is keen on promoting fintech and electronic payment technologies.

Visa and Lan Kwai Fong joined forces to promote contactless payments at selective shops in Lan Kwai Fong.