Most Hongkongers think government lags in promoting e-payment in the city: poll

Expert says city needs standard allowing platforms to accept multiple e-payment methods

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 August, 2017, 6:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 August, 2017, 6:12am

Although most Hongkongers use the Octopus card and other forms of electronic payment every day, eight in 10 of them – far more than their counterparts in Singapore, Macau and on the mainland – believe the government is lagging behind in further promoting e-payment, according to a survey of six Asian cities.

Local tech expert Paul Fung Tak-chung said the city’s government, unlike the Singaporean authorities, had not introduced a standard which allows different platforms to accept multiple e-payment methods.

It had also not brought in any regulations to lower the installation costs of e-payment readers and ensure a level playing field for small and medium-sized businesses, Fung said.

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The survey was conducted by Ocean, an affiliated branch of the Junior Chamber International Hong Kong, from January to June. A total of 601 people between the ages of 15 and 45 were polled for their opinions on e-payment. The participants came from Hong Kong, Zhongshan, Macau, Kaohsiung, Osaka and Singapore.

The study found 73 per cent of Hongkongers used the Octopus card or other stored value cards as their main e-payment method, 11 per cent used credit cards and the rest used other options including PayPal, WeChat Pay, Alipay, Apple Pay and bitcoin.

The other cities had their own preferred platforms – WeChat in Zhongshan (72 per cent), credit cards in Kaohsiung (67 per cent), Singapore (48 per cent) and Osaka (43 per cent), and stored value cards in Macau (67 per cent).

Rating the prevalence of e-payment on a scale from one to 10, Singaporeans gave the highest score of 7.5, followed by residents in Zhongshan with a 6.9 rating, and Hong Kong and Taiwan, who both gave 6.4. It was 6.3 for Macau citizens and 5.8 for the Japanese.

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But 80 per cent of Hongkongers believed their government had not done enough to promote e-payment, the second highest proportion after Taiwan.

“[SMEs] face many problems in embracing e-payment, including transaction commissions and the cost of readers,” said Fung, vice-president of the Internet Professional Association. “When rents are high and the market is relatively small, they need to consider such costs carefully. Even if they are willing to install a reader, which one should they choose?”

Fung said Singapore had long used a Contactless e-Purse Application Standard, under which different debit or stored value cards can be used on one another’s reader. This would have allowed services such as the Electronic Payment Services, Autotoll and Octopus card in Hong Kong to work on one another’s platform.

“The study has proved that consumers in different places prefer a single payment standard,” Fung said. “If the government can provide such hardware support, it will be beneficial to both consumers and businesses.”