Hong Kong tourists travelling to Thailand in the future may be able use their mobile phones to pay for shopping and food via the Faster Payment System (FPS) . The central banks of the two destinations are working on a project to enhance cross-border payments, and help pave the way for a recovery of the tourism industry after the pandemic. The scheme would afford Thai tourists visiting Hong Kong the same benefits. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the city’s de facto central bank, is exploring with the Bank of Thailand a bilateral arrangement allowing people to use FPS in Thailand to make payments to shops and restaurants, according to the authority’s deputy chief executive, Howard Lee. Under the agreement, Thai visitors would be able to use their local faster payment system , PromptPay, in Hong Kong. “We hope that as the pandemic eases and tourism gradually recovers, we can provide one more safe and fast payment option for Hong Kong people travelling outside or overseas visitors coming to Hong Kong, giving them a brand new experience,” Lee said in an article on the HKMA’s website on Friday. Thailand has been a popular holiday destination for Hong Kong people. In the five years to 2019, before the pandemic, an annual average of nearly 900,000 Hongkongers visited the southeast Asian country, while more than 500,000 Thai tourists visited Hong Kong each year, data from the two governments showed. Travel between the two places came to a standstill during the coronavirus pandemic, but it has started to pick up again recently. Hong Kong cut its quarantine hotel requirements from seven days to three last month, while Thailand removed almost all restrictions for tourists in July. Thailand expects 7.5 million international visitors between July and December, a massive 1,840 per cent jump from a year earlier. Two million tourists visited Thailand between January and June this year after it partially removed some restrictions. Tom Chan Pak-lam, chairman of the Institute of Securities Dealers in Hong Kong, believes the arrangement will make no immediate impact as Covid-19 continues to deter visitors. “However, when the central banks in Hong Kong and Thailand complete their studies, it may also be the time for the border to be fully reopened,” he said. “Travellers will then find the new payment scheme useful.” After Thailand, Lee said the HKMA would continue to work with other overseas tourist hotspots to allow Hong Kong people to make payments directly through the FPS when they travel overseas. The HKMA is also conducting tests to enable Hong Kong residents to use the digital yuan , or the e-CNY, in mainland China in the future, Lee said. The first phase of the trial, with one bank, started in December 2020 and now the second phase is under way involving four banks – HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, Standard Chartered and Bank of China Hong Kong. “The use of the e-CNY would promote the interconnectivity of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and improve the efficiency and user experience of cross-boundary payments,” Lee said. The HKMA introduced FPS in September 2018. It is an electronic platform that allows registered users to transfer money between different banks with the use of a simple identifier, such as a phone number. It registered 10.9 million users in August – one person can register more than one account. The average daily turnover reached 928,000 transactions in August, representing a surge of 17 times from the first full month of operation in October 2018, Lee said. “After almost four years, it is very encouraging to see that the FPS has been widely adopted in Hong Kong,” Lee said. The FPS has developed more functions since last year to allow people to make payments at shops in Hong Kong, to pay government bills or school fees, while brokers also allow customers to use the system to top up their securities accounts. There were 450,000 such types of transaction in August, HKMA data showed.