HK making steady progress towards smart payment

Hong Kong is making gradual progress towards smart payment (Image visualspace / iStockPhoto)

The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) and Alipay Hong Kong have released the first AlipayHK Smart Payment Popularity Index.

The index assigns Hong Kong a smart payment Overall Index score of 53.9 out of a maximum of 100, indicating that smart payment is slowly taking hold across Hong Kong.

Based on phone interviews with retailers and residents, the index comprises both a retailer smart payment readiness level and a consumer smart payment readiness level.

Retailers were graded with a readiness level of 62.2, with retailers' scoring highest for total knowledge and perceptions of the smart payment market (73.3%) among the four sub-indices.

In term of business nature, the readiness level of “jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts” ranked the highest (73.7%) among the eight types of surveyed retail outlets.

Wilson Wong, general manager (information technology) of HKPC, explained that most jewelry and timepieces shops in Hong Kong accept non-cash payment. . In addition, it is popular for Mainland Chinese tourists to use mobile payment when they purchase in Hong Kong such as luxury items. That said, jewelry and timepieces shops are much more ready for smart payment.

More than 90% of surveyed retailers provide non-cash payment options, with 43% providing mobile payment. But the remainder have not yet provided mobile payment because they estimate low demand from consumers.

Consumers meanwhile reported a slightly lower than expected readiness of 45.5, with only consumers' willingness to adopt smart payment (56.0) and knowledge and perceptions towards the smart payment market (55.6) rating above the 50 mark.

As anticipated by retailers only 30% of consumers have had mobile payment experience and only 14% plan to adopt mobile payment. Major barriers to wider adoption include unfamiliarity with its operation (68%) and worries over potential personal data leakage (55%).

By contrast, the ability to make transactions quickly was considered the top benefit of mobile payment (55%).

To boost mobile payment adoption in Hong Kong, both the retailer respondents and the general public felt that “strengthening cybersecurity and its regulation” and “government to take the lead in providing relevant payment channels” are two important factors. 

“Governments in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore strive to develop cashless countries or cities. Examples include mobile payment of water bills and metro fares in Taiwan and China respectively,” said Wong. “The Hong Kong government can consider taking the lead in supporting mobile payment.” 

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