HSBC and Bank of China (Hong Kong), two of the city’s major lenders, have expanded their digital payment services to support cross-border transactions as the reopening of China’s border is expected to boost e-commerce in the post-Covid era. HSBC , the biggest of Hong Kong’s three note-issuing banks, introduced a one-stop digital payment tool called HSBC Merchant Box on Thursday. The new platform allows its corporate customers, which include many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that sell products online, to receive cross-border payments from their overseas customers in any of six different currencies in a matter of minutes. It will simplify and shorten the payment process, the bank claims. Previously, it took the companies several days to collect payments from abroad as they needed to go through different banks or payment platforms. HSBC believes the new solution will allow Hong Kong’s small businesses to “receive like a local” at real-time exchange rates in foreign currencies – Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, euros, British pounds, Singapore dollars and US dollars. “ Quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and mainland China , and closer economic integration in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) will combine to support growth of merchandise trade,” said Frank Fang, general manager and head of commercial banking for HSBC Hong Kong and Macau. After three years of lockdown during the pandemic, China and Hong Kong started to reopen their border on January 8, before abandoning all tests and quotas this week. Some 280,000 passengers made the crossing on Monday, well short of the pre-pandemic daily average but a sign nonetheless that the resumption of cross-border traffic is likely to boost trade and tourism in the bay area. The huge economic zone includes Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland Chinese cities. “Cross-border e-commerce has emerged as a driving force of mainland China’s external trade, recording year-on-year growth of nearly 12 per cent in export value in 2022,” Fang said. “As a regional trade hub in the GBA and a gateway to global markets, Hong Kong is well placed to capitalise on the huge market potential .” Last week BOCHK, another of the city’s note-issuing bank, introduced an online payment collection service for Cathay Pacific Airways. It enables passengers to buy their tickets on the airline’s website by selecting Faster Payment System as the payment method and scanning the QR Code automatically generated on the website. “With the reopening of Hong Kong’s borders, customers’ demand for travel has significantly increased and electronic payment has grown in popularity,” said Martin Xu, general manager for sales and distribution of Cathay Pacific. In the first two weeks after China and Hong Kong reopened the border on January 8, the amount of cross-border transactions processed through the bank’s digital payment app, BOC Pay, rose by 40 per cent when compared with the fortnight before the reopening, said Florence Chan, deputy general manager of BOC Credit Card (International), in a statement on Thursday. Chan said the overseas use of BOC Pay in January by Hongkongers travelling to countries such as Japan, South Korea and Thailand, tripled from a year earlier. “BOC Pay will continue to expand to more mainland and international merchant partners to enable our customers to conduct cross-border payments via their mobile phone apps,” she said. At present, there are 40,000 merchants, shops and transport companies in the Greater Bay Area that accept payment using the app.