Mobile payments

Why most Hongkongers aren’t yet reaching for their e-wallets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 8:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 11:03pm

When it comes to mobile wallets and cashless transactions, consumers in Hong Kong are well aware of their options but cite privacy concerns as a barrier to adopting these new payment methods, a recent survey has found.

According to the report by PayPal, 70 per cent of Hongkongers surveyed have used mobile payments, contactless card payment and e-wallets, well behind China on 86 per cent and Singapore on 82 per cent.

More must be done to convert high awareness into higher adoption of new digital payment methods
Soon Sze-meng, PayPal Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan

Of the remaining 30 per cent, about half cited worries about privacy as a barrier to adopting these payment methods.

“More must be done to convert high awareness into higher adoption of new digital payment methods soon,” said Soon Sze-meng, general manager of PayPal Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. Soon urged industry players to educate consumers about the benefits of digital payments in order to encourage adoption and move the industry forwards.

In an interview with the Post, Soon pointed out that Hong Kong is a city with one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, but said the gap between awareness of digital payment options and their adoption was still fairly wide.

While 54 per cent of those surveyed were aware of e-wallets and mobile wallets, only 41 per cent are using them, according to the report, titled Digital Payments: Thinking Beyond Transactions.

Soon also said merchants in Hong Kong could easily benefit by incorporating digital payment facilities into their business, which would enable them to sell across borders and expand their business.

Traditionally a “cash is king” society, Hong Kong has been making a push towards digital and mobile payments, with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) issuing stored value facilities (SVF) licences last year to 13 companies, including PayPal. The SVF licence allows holders to operate e-wallet services.

Mainland Chinese technology giants Ant Financial and Tencent have launched e-wallets in Hong Kong, allowing users to pay for purchases offline with their smartphones in shops like 7-Eleven convenience stores.

On Tuesday, tycoon Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison Holdings and Ant Financial, which operates Alipay, announced that they will form a joint venture to bring digital wallet services to more consumers in Hong Kong by offering them in CK Hutchison’s wide network of stores.