More than 450,000 bank customers will be able to transfer money, shop and pay bills by scanning Quick Response (QR) bar codes from Sunday (Sept 30), via a new Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) platform which marks a milestone for the city as it moves ever-more towards becoming a cashless society. Norman Chan Tak-lam, HKMA’s chief executive launched the new initiative at a ceremony on Friday, hailing the system “unique”, as it will become the world’s only one able to support both Hong Kong dollars and mainland Chinese renminbi. “After its full launch, the Faster Payment System [as it is being called], will operate around the clock, is simple, secure and free of charge for small-value transfers,” he added. Fund transfers between Alipay and WeChat Pay around the corner as Hong Kong launches faster payments service The new platform is a key project within wider HKMA plans to globally promote the city’s burgeoning fintech sector. Individuals and companies, after registering a mobile phone number or email address with their bank or e-wallet operator, will be able to transfer money to others using a swipe of their mobile. The system also allows customers to pay in shops and restaurants using their bank accounts or e-wallets, and pay utility bills. After its full launch, the Faster Payment System will operate around the clock, is simple, secure and free of charge Norman Chan Tak-lam, HKMA’s chief executive The platform started accepting registrations from September 17, but actual money transfers will only go live from Sunday. Chan said more than 450,000 individual registrations have been recorded, split 328,000 by mobile and 70,000 by email. Some 58,000 corporate registrations have been logged. Twenty one banks and 10 e-wallet operators have joined in, including all the major players including from HSBC, Citibank, and Bank of China (Hong Kong), Alipay, WeChat Pay, and the ubiquitous Hong Kong payment card, Octopus. It is the first time Hong Kong users of Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s two dominant cashless payment operators, will be able to transfer funds to each other. Hong Kong draws 29 applications for virtual bank licences Payments can be made in either Hong Kong dollars or yuan, all year round including holidays, and the transfers are immediate, after the payee gives the instruction. Currently only same-bank, e-wallet transactions are possible to settle immediately, while transfers to different accounts or wallets can take up to two days and cost HK$200 (US$25.50). Lenders have been jostling for new customers in recent weeks, to promote their adoption of the system, including offering cash and discounts as incentives. Some studies carried out elsewhere have showed people on average need to spend 32 hours a year, paying bills or transferring funds Diana Cesar, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Association of Banks HSBC is handing out HK$50 to anyone registering their accounts with the new system, and running lucky draws with prizes including a HK$1 million jackpot, smartphones and travel coupons. Bank of China has tied up with Towngas to allow customers to pay their bills via the QR code. Diana Cesar, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Association of Banks and chief executive of HSBC’s domestic Hong Kong operation, said the new payment will be a huge timesaver for customers. “Some studies carried out elsewhere have showed people on average need to spend 32 hours a year, paying bills or transferring funds. “The successful launch of the system is a huge milestone for the Hong Kong banking industry,” she said. Alipay belongs to Alibaba Group, which owns South China Morning Pos t.