Date
26 September 2017
WeChat Pay's ultimate goal is not merely to make a profit but to become the foundation for Tencent's other businesses. Photo: Reuters
WeChat Pay's ultimate goal is not merely to make a profit but to become the foundation for Tencent's other businesses. Photo: Reuters

Why HK merchants resist mobile payment

Tech giant Tencent Holdings reported a 70 percent surge in earnings in the second quarter, with products like WeChat Pay and Tencent Cloud being some of the new growth engines.

Tencent president Martin Lau said WeChat Pay’s ultimate goal is not merely to make a profit but to become the foundation for the group’s other businesses.

Mobile payment is developing fast in the mainland but Hong Kong is lagging far behind in the adoption of the new technology.

Why is there such a big gap?

Some believe it comes down to differences in culture. For example, some restaurant operators in Hong Kong shun mobile payment because of the additional administration costs and manpower issues.

Some taxi drivers also resist the technology. A fleet manager of taxi-hailing service Fly Taxi said the company had added an online payment function to its app in order to enrich its service portfolio and build a trendy brand image. But the feature was later suspended after its taxi drivers strongly opposed it.

The drivers preferred to be paid in cash as the old system gave them more flexibility in filing their income tax returns. Some also said they didn’t want their wives to know how much they were really earning.

Adam Lau, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Heycoins, a coins solution startup, said the growing popularity of mobile payment in the mainland is driven by its less developed financial system.

For example, the number of automated teller machines in China is simply inadequate and counterfeit money is prevalent. Mobile payment offers a solution to these pain points.

In order for mobile payment to flourish in Hong Kong, Lau said, an environment that can drive consumer demand and interests needs to be created first.

Lau sees potential in e-wallet. “The key is [how to use mobile payment] to solve the most pressing problems for users, and also to make it easy and fun to adopt.”

Partnering with mobile payment firms, Heycoins’ kiosks now let consumers convert coins to recharge their e-wallets.

In addition to enriching the environment in which consumers can naturally take up mobile payment, Lau said a reward scheme or other incentive plans would also help popularize payment technologies.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 21

Translation by Jonathan Chong

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/RT/CG

Heycoins chief marketing officer and co-founder Adam Lau (right), with CEO and co-founder Eddie Rong, said Hong Kong must create the right environment for mobile payment to flourish in the city. Photo: HKEJ StartUpBeat website


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