Date
22 October 2017
Error screens (inset) added to users' frustrations as they tried to register for HSBC's new PayMe service.  The bank has apologized to customers. Photo: HKEJ
Error screens (inset) added to users' frustrations as they tried to register for HSBC's new PayMe service. The bank has apologized to customers. Photo: HKEJ

Pay me? Play me!

Nothing is worse than launching a hot service only to screw up on the first day.

Spare a thought for HSBC, which has come up with a highly anticipated payment method only to disappoint many fans who could not register the PayMe service.

I am one of them. I first registered before 7 a.m. on Wednesday and had yet to receive confirmation at this writing.

The pop up message read: “Your HKID is processing”, followed by “Error: PayMe experienced an issue. Please try again in a few moments.”

No wonder many ridiculed the new service on social media as “PlayMe” being such a huge letdown.

The supposedly new person-to-person payment service is designed to settle payment among friends who may have, for instance, pre-paid for a concert ticket or lunch with just a click on their mobile phone.

These payments are settled by credit card with a cap of HK$100,000 per year. It’s treated as a cash advance that earns users some mileage points.

We cannot help asking: just how confident is Hong Kong’s No.1 bank about this new service?

Yes, we know Murphy’s Law — anything that can go wrong will go wrong — but that is a really bad start for fintech, dubbed the future of finance for Hong Kong.

Banks have been resisting the challenge from tech giants such as Alibaba Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay to settle small payments.

Just when HSBC, with over four million account holders in Hong Kong alone, took such a long time to invent something that can be comparable to the more popular Octopus or emerging payment method such as Tap n go or TNG Wallet, it blew its chance on Day 1.

HSBC should have anticipated the heavy online traffic it could cause, based on the experience of Ocean Park’s 40th anniversary discounted ticket sale which almost spoiled the entire promotion last month.

Apparently, the bank has learned nothing from different generations of iPhone sales, or TVB’s poll on Miss Hong Kong, all of which failed to meet exceptionally huge traffic and generated unwanted publicity.

But corporates are just greedy. They want the world’s attention but sometimes without being able to provide or deliver a proper product.

In the end, HSBC apologised to PayMe users, acknowledging the “very heavy traffic” in the morning that caused problems for customers or registered users and pledging to resolve the issue.

– Contact us at [email protected]

BK/RA

EJ Insight writer

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