Hong Kong’s home-grown digital payment platform Octopus Holdings plans to spend hundreds of millions in the coming years on technology and product development to bolster its competitiveness, the company’s new chairwoman has said. The company intends to double its investments and spend millions on consumption voucher offers, as well as marketing efforts for the government scheme, non-executive chairwoman Jeny Yeung Mei-chun told the Post on Monday, without revealing the amount. Yeung took up the position at the beginning of the year, succeeding banker David Eldon, who retired after seven years at the helm. Yeung, who also serves as MTR Corporation’s transport services director, said Octopus had no plans to seek an initial public offering or other funding sources. “We will increase the investment amount so that we can enhance and buy more technology and strengthen our services,” she said. “But I don’t think we have plans to spin off other financial arrangements. We believe the current mode of working is still suitable for Octopus.” She added cross-border payments made through services such as Octopus UnionPay, which was introduced in January 2022, saw a five-fold increase since the full return of travel between mainland China and Hong Kong. All border control points between the city and the mainland reopened in early February after three years of restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “The opening of the border has increased usage of Octopus UnionPay. It’s still new but we see good feedback from customers … you don’t need a China bank account or Chinese mobile number to use our services,” she said. “No hassle, no trouble. That will help Hong Kong people, especially on the mainland, where usage of credit cards and cash is uncommon.” Octopus card spreads its reach in Hong Kong, wins over elderly, small merchants Yeung said the QR code service was also becoming more widely accepted in South Korea and Japan. The chairwoman added that the company had not ruled out expanding its services in the Greater Bay Area, referring to the central government’s scheme to link Hong Kong, Macau and nine other Chinese cities into an integrated economic and business hub. “We are still exploring how the bay area development goes forward and how we can play a bigger part. We believe apart from transport … payment is a very important part of integration for people in the area when they cross the boundaries,” she said. Offering more cross-boundary payment options would enhance integration between Hong Kong and the bay area, Yeung added. Yeung also said the digital payment platform would pour “tens of millions” into offers and marketing efforts for the newest round of consumption vouchers, a government scheme to hand out HK$5,000 (US$637) to Hong Kong permanent residents and new immigrants from the mainland from April. Octopus is one of the six service providers for the scheme, with others being Bank of China’s BoC Pay, HSBC’s PayMe, AlipayHK, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK. AlipayHK is owned by Ant Group, which is an affiliate company of Alibaba Group Holding, the Chinese conglomerate which owns the South China Morning Post. The government launched the consumption voucher scheme in 2021, with each eligible resident getting e-coupons worth HK$5,000, before doubling the amount to HK$10,000 last year to help boost spending as the economy was left reeling by the worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Hong Kong issues new round of consumption vouchers — but don’t expect too much Addressing concerns about fierce competition from other payment platforms, Yeung said Octopus had been competitive in the last two rounds and would “continue being so”. The company adopted a three-pronged strategy which involved using physical cards, its mobile app and online payment service to cater to the needs of different customers, she said. More than 20 million cards were in circulation by September last year, and they are used by almost everyone in the city, chalking up 15 million transactions a day. The company’s core unit, Octopus Card Limited, posted a net profit of HK$355 million in 2021, up 22 per cent from HK$290 million the year before. Octopus is a subsidiary of the MTR Corp, which will reveal its 2022 financial results on Thursday.