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Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)

Hong Kong will take a huge step towards smart banking this week with introduction of no cost, immediate interbank fund transfers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2018, 8:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2018, 8:00am

A new payment system that will allow free real-time fund transfers among platforms such as PayMe, Alipay and WeChat Pay will be launched as scheduled on Monday, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

The faster payment system, an infrastructure project under development by the HKMA with banks for more than a year, will enable immediate fund transfers. Customers need only register the email address or mobile number of the person getting the money.

Currently, transfers among different banks take two or three days and may entail interbank transfer charges of as much as HK$200 (US$25.50).

A spokeswoman for the HKMA said the launch would go ahead even as business activity was expected to be disrupted by a typhoon warning.

“As [Severe Typhoon] Mangkhut was approaching, the HKMA had considered whether to delay the launch of the faster payment system. However, the clearing house and the connectivity of the banks have been in progress. A ­delay may create more technical problems. As such, the system will be launched as planned,” the spokeswoman said.

However, a planned ceremony dedicated to the launch would be cancelled, she added.

While the debut of the fund transfer system would proceed as scheduled, individual banks were free to roll out the service to their customers at a later date, the HKMA said.

Several large banks are expected to allow customers to begin registering for the service from Monday. However, functions such as interbank transfers will not be available until September 30.

Citibank will be among the first local lenders to do so.

“Citibank’s customers can start to register their mobile phone or email address to link up with their bank accounts. They will also be able to start real-time fund transfers from September 30,” a spokeswoman said.

Customers could transfer up to HK$1 million a day to pre-registered accounts and as much as HK$10,000 for non-registered ones, the spokeswoman said.

An HSBC spokeswoman said its services would begin Monday.

“Our customers will be able to register their bank accounts to link with their mobile number or email address once the faster ­payment system goes live,” the spokeswoman said.

Hang Seng Bank also confirmed its customers could start to register for the payment system Monday for transfers in Hong Kong dollars or yuan.

Bank of China (Hong Kong) said it would begin supporting the service Monday as well.

“We strive to bring customer experience to a whole new level and drive Hong Kong into a new era of smart banking. Details of our Faster Payment System services will be announced in due course,” a spokeswoman said.

Alipay is operated by Ant Financial Services Group, which is an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, the owner of the Post.